Friday, August 30, 2013

Guess what day it is?

WARNING:  Random post ahead. Beware objects falling from sky and into your lap.

1.  Ok, so everyone knows about the Hump Day commercial.  You know the one...

Yeah, that one.  Well, it's got everyone so excited for Wednesdays, just so they can call it Hump Day and reference that commercial.  Way to go, Geico.  You really hit it out of the ballpark with that one.  Let me fill you in on a little secret.  I am of over it.  

You know what I'm not over?  Fridays.  I can totally get behind a Friday.  I am so stoked when the last day of the work week rolls around that I can barely contain myself.  There is only one thing that can make a Friday better.  Ok, two things.  If I wasn't at work and it was a Friday that would be the bee's knees.  The only other thing better than a Friday is a Friday that starts a long, football-filled weekend. Roll Tide!!!

2. Canon goes to "school" (daycare) everyday.  He met his best friend, Jason*, there.  *Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Jason's mother ended up quitting her job to be a stay-at-home mom,  (Pardon me while I weep with jealousy) so he no longer goes to school with my little man.  It has been about a month and a half since Canon has seen this kid, but he still talks about him. Every single day.  He thanks God for Jason in his prayers every night. He loves his best friend and misses him so much that it really breaks my heart, so I pleaded with the owner of his daycare for Jason's mom's phone number.  It took about two weeks, but I finally got it from her yesterday.  I walked out of there, number in hand, feeling LIKE A BOSS. Seriously, this is how I felt after getting a phone number so I could set up a play date for my son.   

Animated Gifs

You can go ahead and give me the Mom of the Year award.  Seriously, I want the sash and tiara.  I'll wait.

3.  I am so thankful for my parents.  Canon is spending the night with them tonight, so tomorrow morning if you stop by my house, there will be a lot of this happening...

Heavenly, no?  I. can't. wait.

What are your holiday weekend plans?  If you say anything that doesn't include football, I am not sure that I understand how you sleep at night.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wanderlust : Atlanta, GA 2013

For those of you that don't know, I am the oldest of five children.  I know that isn't a huge family, but in today's world it is usually a shocker to someone that any parents would do THAT five times.  (I know!)  I just remind them that since they got such an amazing child the first time, they figured they would try to have another equally as amazing.  So they tried, and they tried, and they tried, and they tried, and they...finally gave up because there was just no point in trying to match what they had gotten the first time.  Sad, but true.

Alas, in all of these efforts I did get some pretty cool siblings.  The middle one, my only sister, is every bit the middle child.  She came into this world demanding attention and hasn't stopped yet.  She is the drama queen, the artist, the writer.  She is a free spirit and free thinker.  Equal parts beautiful, smart, and talented.  (Are you jealous yet?  I am.)  

Weatherly graduated from college in Atlanta earlier this year and stayed to work in that wonderful city.  We decided to visit her in February (pre-graduation) and took the opportunity to explore a little of what Atlanta has to offer. We had previously visited the Georgia Aquarium in 2009 when I was pregnant with Canon and knew that he would absolutely flip over that place so we decided to take a repeat trip.  We were not disappointed.

Also, I think this is where I should point out that Canon ADORES his Aunt Weatherly.  She is loud and boisterous and lively.  Before he could speak, he actually called her "aaaaaaaahhhhhh!" because she made that sound all of the time and he associated playful yelling and screaming with her.  It should, then, come as no shock to hear that when we are with her, we barely get any Canon time in.  It is all aunt, all the time.  As it should be.




After seeing practically every square inch of the aquarium, we headed across the street to the Centennial Olympic Park, which is the legacy of the 1996 Olympic Games, held in Atlanta (um, obviously).  Anyway, the park houses some really cool events, like live music throughout the week, perfect picnic spots, and an amazing playground.  I'll give you three guesses as to where we ended up.  1, 2,...

Surprise!  I spent the time taking pictures (someone has to) while Canon and Weatherly had a ball. Shocker.


Climbing his first tree

While at the park, Canon noticed a group of boys that were about 6 years older than him running around playing together.  He thinks he is so big so he ran over to join in the fun leaving Weatherly to rest with the adults feeling heartbroken and discarded.  Before I could call him back, one of the kids looked at him, smiled and said "you want to play with us?".  Then this 9 year old saint looked at me and said (I kid you not) "don't worry, we will be careful since he is littler than us".  Someone give that child's parents a medal.  I swear the space station saw Canon's teeth from space.  He was overjoyed because he was running with the big dogs. Literally. Sort of. (har har)

After giving him some time to play (and after furiously searching my Around Me app for somewhere to eat), we left the park, headed to PF Chang's, and proceeded to stuff our faces with the most delicious noodles and lettuce wraps known to man. Probably not, but we were really hungry so it tasted like heaven.  

Of course, the obligatory IKEA run happened the next day.  Again, shocker.  All in all, a good time was had by all.  Next time we head to that city, we will hit up the children's museum and I will give you the low-down. (Um, I am not sure that I can pull that slang off so just pretend that sounded cool, ok? Thanks.)

So are there any places in Hotlanta that are a must-see or any restaurants that you recommend?  I'm dying to hear.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wanderlust : Disney World 2013 - Wrap-up & Photopass

There is so much about Disney World that I think people either don't realize or forget about.  It is truly an amazing place that is way more than just Mickey and the gang.  The food, especially the actual sit-down restaurants, is incredible.  The details that are put into every single nook and cranny is essential to the "believability" factor.

The customer service at Disney is off the charts.  You will not find a more helpful or cheerful staff.  Everyone takes pride in what they do (or at least seems to) and each cast member has the power to provide magic in someone's day.  I mean that literally.  Each person is given the authority to create a magical experience.  Anything from giving out a free FastPass to finding your child's favorite character for a one-on-one session or decorating your hotel room for a birthday celebration.  Disney brings out the imagination in everyone.

There are so many options available to customize your Disney vacation.  The must-do's for us are staying in a Disney property hotel, Park Hopper Tickets for each day you are there (even on travel days because you can eat in the parks!), and a dining plan with meal reservations at some of the most amazing restaurants you will ever experience.

One of the greatest services (in my opinion) that Disney offers is the PhotoPass and PhotoPass+.  Allow me to set the scene:  

You have your entire family in one spot, actually laughing and having fun together.  THIS RARELY HAPPENS and you want to document it.  "Wait a minute, how can I get all of us together if one of us has to take the picture?!"  You hand your camera to a random stranger, apologizing and thanking them profusely at the same time.  They, of course, man-handle your camera or phone because they aren't used to it but finally ask everyone in your group to "say cheese!".  Ah, sweet relief.  No one was crying or bickering. You have a family photo where everyone is happy.  Suddenly you freeze.  Panic runs through your veins. Nay, anger.  How could that stranger cut off your husband's head?!  How could they not see that the entire picture was blurry so that all you can make out are dark blobs against a colorful background?! Aaaaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhh!  You feel the sadness engulf you.  You feel the tears start to spill over.  Your vacation is ruined.  

*End scene*

Ok, so only a little dramatic, but you get the idea.  Disney thought of that moment.  {They think of everything}.  They thought of me the crazy photo lady that obsesses over getting those shots of her family having fun TOGETHER.  They thought "why not make her perfect vacation even more perfect?".  So they created PhotoPass.  There are professional photographers set up throughout each park in strategic locations to provide you and your party with the best shots of everyone having fun together.  When you sign up and pay, you receive a card that you carry around with you and every time you see a PhotoPass photographer, you hand them your card.  They take your photo (several times and in several different ways) and scan your card.  This uploads all of the photos taken to a database that you can access at the end of your trip (or during if you so choose).  Your initial purchase actually pays for a CD of your images, so it doesn't matter if you take one or eleventy billion photos, your price never changes.  {I actually asked if there was a limit to the photos, and they assured me there wasn't.  They said that they had actually had someone that needed 10 CD's for all of the photos that they had taken and their price didn't change.  Lesson learned.  The more photos you take, the bigger bang for your buck.} Bless you, Disney.  Bless. You.

We found out about PhotoPass during our honeymoon and were so thankful to come away with a ton of photos of us together.  Of course, this time around it was already built into our budget because I knew how important those moments with Canon would be.  Only this time, we upgraded to the PhotoPass+ edition.  In addition to the CD of all photos that PhotoPass photographers take of you, this includes all photos taken of your party on rides like Everest and extra photos taken of famous places in Disney sans crowds (think the characters, the castle, the Flower & Garden show topiaries, etc).  These are great because you can use them for scrapbooks or prints if you like.  I may have taken the "take as many pictures as possible" a little far according to Craig, but I don't think there is such a thing as "too many pictures" so I totally disagree.

See what I mean?  Disney magic is everywhere! (Nevermind Canon's eyes.  If he looks half asleep here, it's because he was.  He crashed right after this shot.) 

Upside to Canon's naps?  We got pictures with just the two of us also. 

For every character breakfast or dinner show that you book, there will be a PhotoPass photographer ready to take pictures to commemorate that event.

Though the Everest picture of the guys (back car) was the best, we received photos from Buzz Lightyear's ride as well.  I can't remember how many rides take photos, but with a three year old we obviously didn't ride very many of them. 

The photographers are also set up at every character meet-and-greet location.  We didn't do a lot of those (in fact, I think this is the only one we did because the line wasn't long yet.), but they are all over the parks as well.  If you or your child is dying to meet a character, then these events are a ton of fun.

Below are some of the examples of shots given to you as part of the PhotoPass+ option. 

All in all, I think Disney outdid themselves with this service.  I recommend it to anyone going to Disney World.

So ends my Disney World recap.  Anyone have any recommendations that other people may enjoy?

*I was not compensated for this post, but if Disney wants to send me on a free vacation - or even free PhotoPass+ next time we visit, I wouldn't hate it.  Just sayin'.*

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It's that time of year again!

So I know I said that I would provide tips about Disney World today, but I kind of feel like Disney needs a break. We need to address a very important topic that is coming to light this week.  Something that I know is on everyone's mind.  No, not Miley falling down the rabbit hole (but seriously, gross).  I am talking about college football.

I live in the south where football is HUGE.  If you have grown up in the south, you are likely a generation fan, meaning you are a fan of the team that your parents and grandparents (and great grandparents) rooted for. This passion for your team will carry on with your children and their children too.  (In my case, it is a little more difficult because I married the enemy an LSU fan but I digress.)  

Waking up on game day, I have butterflies in my stomach and a smile on my face.  If it is a good game (and by that I mean a WIN), that elation will continue into my dreams that night.  If the outcome isn't so wonderful then my mood can't be lifted by much.  If my team loses to my husband's team then SOMEONE is sleeping on the couch.  Ok, not really but not for lack of trying.

You see, I am an Alabama fan.  My family, for generations past, are Alabama fans.  It is my alma mater and I couldn't be more proud of our boys.  I was attending school there when we weren't doing so hot (1999-2004) and I was still at every game.

And while we are on this subject, please for the love of the game of football, don't leave the stadium if your team isn't winning.  What do you think it says to those kids on the field playing their hearts out?! Stay and support your team no matter how the game - or the season - is going. Be a true fan, not a fair-weathered one. 

*Drops mic.  Steps off soap box.*

Anyway, my husband is an LSU fan, so football season is exciting at our house.  We aren't the trash-talk fans.  I am fully aware that every team goes through seasons of highs and - at some point - will have seasons of lows so I don't like to put my foot in my mouth just to be slapped down to size the next game.  It is all in fun around these parts.  We support each other and our teams, until that fateful day every November when we play each other.  Then it is separate couches and one confused kid (wearing neutral white colors) for about four hours.  Fun times.

Last year, I received two tickets to the Alabama vs. Western Carolina game for my birthday.  Normally if I am attending an event of any sort I will want to take my husband, but that LSU-loving son of a, I really wanted to go with my dad to this event.  (Back story: During EVERY Alabama game my Dad and I exchange texts throughout the game and phone calls before, during half-time, and at the end of the game to talk about it so he was the perfect person to take.) I begged and pleaded until he finally agreed (ha ha), and off we went to Bryant-Denny Stadium.  We were both so excited and pumped that we could barely contain ourselves.

I hadn't been back to the campus since I graduated in 2004, so seeing the Million Dollar Band marching down the street to the stadium made me tear up (yeah, I'll admit it) and brought back so many wonderful memories of being a student there.  The energy on that campus is palpable.  It is impossible not to feel overwhelmed even before you set foot in the stadium.

But we get in the stadium, and after finally finding our seats (practically on the field - they were amazing), we were immersed in the love of the game and the excitement of the atmosphere.  




I took this photo to prove to Canon that even Santa Clause is a Bama fan.  Craig was not amused. 


Caterpillar representin' 

I'd like to point out how I centered the stadium in this photo and made sure no one else was in the frame.  You're welcome, Dad. 

He so didn't do that for me, so thanks Dad. 

The game was amazing, not because we beat the h-e-double hockey sticks off of them (sorry, WCU), but because being there - in the middle of the excitement - with my Dad was the best.  We took our time getting out of the stadium and walked the gorgeous campus for a while to allow the traffic to die down a bit.

All in all, it was an amazing day and I am so thankful that my husband happily and quickly gave up the tickets managed to put his feelings aside for me and allowed me take my dad to the game.  Such a thoughtful and understanding man.  

So who's ready for some college football?!

P.S. I am, obviously, a huge Alabama fan, but all fans are welcome here.  No trash talk please. Just remember, every team has their day.