The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Knock, knock….anyone still there?  Sorry I haven’t posted an actually written post for a couple weeks.  It’s been crazy on the work front, so by the time the evenings & weekends roll around I usually sit in a coma from all the craziness during the week.  This week has been one of the roughest weeks in a long time.

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The Ugly: – Crazy & chaotic changes at work that are just not well thought out.  One of those things where you’re just so overwhelmed by everything, you just want to cry in the morning when your alarm goes off.

The Bad: One of my closest friends from high school lost his 2.5 yr old little superhero this week.  He laid down for a nap on Monday & never woke up.  It’s been such a heartbreaking week with all of the posts on Facebook.  The amount of strength and pure faith I’ve seen from his posts this week has been simply amazing.  It was also pretty amazing that they had a “Celebration of Life” vs. a funeral.  They asked that everyone wear a superhero shirt or character shirt that a 2 year old would approve of and to please not wear black.  Hundreds of people posted pics this week of their character shirts or superhero capes that they were sporting that day in memory of little Grayden.  And even more people changed there profile pics to a superhero in honor of this precious little angel.  The support they received this week was just overwhelming.  I’m so grateful that they were surrounded with so much love this week.  Since I was unable to make the trip from Orlando to St. Louis to be there, I was grateful for all the pics that were posted and people that took video of the balloon release after the celebration.  I was glad I was able so see those little bits & pieces from afar.

Grayden.CollageThe Good:  In exactly 4 hours I’ll be picking up my parents from the Orlando International Airport!  Woo-Hoo!  After a week like this, I need a damn hug from my parents!  They are in town for my dad’s conference that lasts thru Wednesday afternoon, so they’ll be staying at the Disney Dolphin & Swan for the first part of the week & then they’ll be coming to my house until I have to take them back to the airport next Sunday.  Only plans we’ve got so far are dinner reservations at Disney’s Hoop De Doo Revue on Wednesday & then an airboat ride Thursday morning.  I’ll probably drag them up to the state park early Friday morning & show them all the manatees in the springs!  It’s an awesome site!  It’s been about a year since I was there last.

Manatees Galore at Blue Spring State Park

Since I’m a super awesome daughter…I went out this morning and rented a 2013 Dodge Dart for the week.  I only have an old 2-door car that I can’t run the A/C in or it sounds like it’s going to fall apart.  So, I opted to rent a four door car with A/C, because I know I hate climbing in and out of a 2-door car, so thought I’d make it easy on them.  It makes me nervous driving it though because they kind of make you feel really guilty if you opt out of insurance for the car, but it literally doubles the price, so I’ll just have to be super careful and hope everyone else on the road is too!

2013DodgeDartWell, that about wraps up my week…the good, the bad & the ugly.  With only two days of work next week & I took off the rest of the week…next week is going to be a whole lot better!  Have a great weekend!

Cutest Fairytale Photoshoot Ever!

Alright everyone!  Be prepared to be blown away by what I think is the cutest baby photoshoot EVER!  If you know me, you know I LOVE anything fairytale related, so I totally fell in love with these photos when I saw them!  What’s awesome is that these were taken of one of my high school classmates little girl, Maddie.  I’d be surprise if you haven’t seen these photos yet, as Miss Maddie has taken Pinterest by storm!  The photographer, Wendi Riggins, is based in my hometown of Burlington, IA & you can view more of her fabulous & oh so creative photos one her blog WendiRiggins.com. Anyways, I thought these were too adorable not to share, so, enjoy the photos from Wendi’s “Once Upon A Time” photoshoot!  Make sure to check out WendiRiggins.com for more photos!

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Maddie.PP2Maddie.Alice

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Maddie.The End

Catch Up Time!

Holy smokes guys….it’s been a while since I’ve written an actual post!  So, I guess it’s time to play catch-up!  November 16th I packed my bags and headed home to Illinois for Thanksgiving for a nice 12 day vacation.  It’s hard to believe it was a month ago today that I was getting on that plane home.  Like they say…time flies!  Time flew by pretty fast when I was at home too!  It was a lot easier leaving and not crying my eyes out like I usually do when I leave, since my parent are coming to visit the first week of February!  YAY!!  Anyways, before I flew home I thought it would be nice to have some family pictures taken since we haven’t had any taken in years, so the day after I arrived, we headed out for pics down by the Mississippi River & then to my favorite park.  We lucked out & it was a gorgeous & warm day outside for that time of year….now a week later…it’s was in the 30’s, so when I say we lucked out, I mean it!  Here’s a few shots…

Mom, Chris (Not so little bro), Me, Dad & Sara (little sis)

Mom, Chris (Not so little bro), Me, Dad & Sara (little sis)
Sara, Jenn & Chris

Sara, Jenn & Chris

12.17If anyone back home reads this & is looking for a good photographer in the Burlington, IA area, you should check out SAS Photography & contact Sarah Schulz, as she does a wonderful job & has awesome prices!  Thanks again, Sarah!

After being a bum & gaining 10lbs from all that great home cooking, I headed home on the 27th.  I had a little bit of an annoying cough when I got on the plane & had been popping vitamin C all day like a crazy person, but by the next day or so I was back in Orlando it had turned into a full blown cold…Blah!  I blame the plane ride & all that recycled air.

So with being on vacation, being sick & busy with Christmas shopping…I just haven’t had the urge to write.  Seems like when I do have thoughts of things to write…its when I’m somewhere that I’m not near my computer, like on the ride home from work and totally space out and miss turns and such…yes, I do that.

I have managed to do a Disney park pretty much every weekend since I returned from vacation, so I can check out all of the Disney holiday goodness.  Like the lighting of Cinderella’s Castle….it was magical & oh so beautiful!  I took a video of the whole thing so you wouldn’t feel left out, but I can’t figure out how to post it here, so I will post pics, which just don’t do it justice!  🙂  We even experienced New Year’s the night I went as they were filming some sort of New Year’s celebration and had the clock on the castle set to midnight for filming…it was kind of comical.

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IMG_1012Along with enjoying all the lights & events in the parks, my friend Eric & I have been resort hopping and checking out the lights & decor in all of the Disney resorts.  They all have lovely trees…one had a life size Gingerbread house in the lobby that they of course were selling gingerbread cookies out of.  Another had the biggest freakin’ Mickey Mouse wreath I’ve ever seen!

DisneyChristmasNow last weekend, my friends Eric & Jay took my out for and AWESOME dinner at Epcot at Tutto Italia, which included specialty seating for the Candlelight Processional AND V.I.P. viewing area for the fireworks show Illuminations.  I didn’t get any pics that night, as I was just having way to much fun.  There are several videos on YouTube of the Candlelight Processional…I went to the one that was narrated by James Denton (Actor from Desperate Housewives).

Now this afternoon I have plans to go with my Disney companions to go to Mickey’s Jammin’ Jingle Parade at Animal Kingdom & then we are hopping over to the Osborne Family Light Spectacle at MGM (Currently known as Hollywood Studios, but I refuse to call it that like any diehard Disney fan)! 🙂

Well, that pretty much wraps things up to what’s been going on in my world lately.  Got all presents wrapped and shipped out yesterday, so all that stuff is out of the way.  I have gifts for friends sitting here to hand out this coming week.  I’m kind of bummed I’ve only gotten one Christmas card so far this year.  I always loved Christmas cards…I only send out a few anymore since I never seem to get any back.  I was super excited to come home Friday though and found my landlords had left my yearly Christmas present hanging on the door, which this year was the cutest cookie jar…filled to the brim with cookies & a cute jar full of peppermint taffy.  They are the best!

IMG_1022Well…I’m going to call it a wrap!  Let’s hope the writing bug keeps flowing this week, so here’s until next time!

Cheers!

Disney & BFF’s…Can it Get Any Better?

The weekend is over….Boo!  I had a nice long weekend, since I had Friday off.  Friday & Sunday were spent running errands and relaxing.  Saturday was a Disney day with the be sties.

We spent a good majority of the day enjoying the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot.  We were kind of hoping for the cooler weather we have had all week, so we could wear jeans and sweaters and enjoy some fall weather, but we got clear skies, hot sun & no breeze.  I know it hit at lease 85 degrees, so it was a little warm, but we’re used to it, so we had fun.

When we first entered the World Showcase our first big decision was to go right or left…we opted to head left.  We walked by a couple of booths that didn’t really catch our eye & then we came to Austrailia.  None of the main dishes really sounded like anything we wanted, but the dessert sounded pretty good, so that’s what we got for out first taste of the day and it was delicious!
After that, we headed for Mexico & went on the ride there.  Didn’t bother with the food since it was mostly tacos and expensive margaritas…both which can be made at home…PASS!
Next up on our list, which is my most favorite country to get food….GERMANY!  I stepped in line and ordered one of everything…Brat on a Pretzel Roll, Schinken Nudel (Pasta Gratin w/ Ham & Cheese) & Apple Strudel with Karamel-Vanilla Sauce.  Don’t worry…I shared!
When we were all done stuffing our faces with yummy German goodness.  We decided to play around with Stephanie’s new iPhone and take pictures of ourselves.  It actually turned out pretty good because we were just being silly and having fun.  Please excuse the brows…the German came out and they went crazy again.  No worries…I have an appointment to whip them back into shape Friday! 🙂
After poking around in Germany and having some fun we headed towards France in search of Creme Brûlée & alcohol.  I passed on the Creme Brûlée, as I was too full from all the food in Germany.  I did go for a Grand Marnier Orange Slush….it tasted just like an orange push-up pop.  So good!  I was quite sad when it was all gone! 😦
After the orange slush, I was good to go for awhile as far as treats went.  I think we headed towards Greece & Canada and the group split and everyone got what they wanted.  I just wanted a water by that point, as I was a bit parched, since it was pretty darn warm out.
Next, we headed for Spaceship Earth before we left the park for the day.  Stephanie & I ended up heading over to the Magic Kingdom though, since we wanted to ride a couple of our favorite rides.  By the time we got over there, we decided we wanted ice cream.  It was pretty good, but I think they gave me more whipped cream than ice cream.
When we were all done with our dessert we headed for the Laugh Floor & watched a quick show, which is always amusing.  Then we headed for one of our favorite rides…Haunted Mansion.  Got there and it was closed due to technical errors.  So we started heading for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and quickly turned around when we seen the line & wait time of over an hour.  Next stop…Pirates of the Caribbean & guess what?!  Closed due to technical errors!  Ahhh!  After that, we called it a day & headed home.  The end.

Weekend Wrap-up

Whew….that weekend went by fast!  It was a pretty mellow week this week.  It was actually kind of slow at the office….hence the below “We’re Bored & Happy it’s Friday” photos.  It was entertainment for a good 10 minutes or so…

Then on Saturday, it was just so darn gorgeous outside….I went to Disney!  It’s finally that time of year where we are getting the cooler weather…low 80’s…haha!  I went in the afternoon & then had some friends meet me there who are Disney nuts too!  We had a good time running around and doing a few rides like The Haunted Mansion, The People Mover, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc…  We snuck in a few others things here and there as well, but the parks were insanely busy for this time of year!  We saw 60 minute wait times for rides like Peter Pan….CRA-ZY!

Disney is all decked out in Halloween decor & was super cute.  You can see in the photo above of a Minnie Mouse holding a pumpkin statue and then of course the adorable pumpkin Mickey wreath.  I was a little hungry since I ate brunch and by 3:30 I was wishing I would have just waited and had lunch.  Since there is a bit of a Biggest Loser weight loss competition going on at work that I’m in on, I tried my best to be good.  I ended up opting for a delicious fruit tart….yes it was as good as it looks!  It was hard opting for that vs. the hot cinnamon roll the size of a plate that smelled out of this world, but I was totally satisfied with my fruit tart as it was very yummy!

Well, that pretty much sums up my weekend in a short and sweet way.  I was pretty much a bum today, other than for some light cleaning & laundry & of course the Sunday grocery run at Target, where I always find other things to buy besides groceries!  Perhaps, I should limit my Target run to once a month! 🙂

Caribbean Adventure: Mayan Ruins of Tulum

Our final port on the cruise before heading back home was Cozumel, Mexico.  We didn’t stick around to see or do anything in Cozumel, as we had an excursion booked to see the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum.  So, since this was a 7 hour tour, as soon as we got off the ship, we hopped aboard a ferry.  It was a bit of a rough ride, but we got to see a pod of dolphins jumping along side of the ferry, which was awesome!  After 45 minutes or so, we reached Playa del Carmen.  Boy was it gorgeous!  Definitely on my list of places to go back to!  The water was just breathtaking it was so blue!

 After getting off the ferry, we had to get on a bus for another 45 minute ride or so.  Right before getting to the ruins though, the bus stopped off at a big shopping area, so everyone could use the restrooms, change into swim gear if they wanted & pick up some souvenirs.  I opted for my typical magnet and a bar of Mexican white chocolate, which was mighty tasty & disappeared in about 30 seconds!  We were lucky & had an awesome tour guide, Pamela & she talked the entire bus ride and loaded us full of information on the area.

When we arrived, we walked through a little market area and then it was a good mile hike to the Mayan Ruins.  It wouldn’t have been bad, but man was it HOT!  I have never sweat so much….it was just so humid and no breeze.  Luckily it was a bit overcast or it would have been even hotter.  Once we reached the ruins, Pamela stopped and filled us in on the whole history of the Mayans and then let us go and explore.  I was a bit disappointed that everything was roped off, so you could only look….no going inside any of them.  It was pretty cool to get to see everything though, so I can say I’ve seen it.  If you’d like to read more of the history aspect of the ruins, check out Simply Stephanie’s post on the trip.

We had the most fun just running around getting quick pictures so we could head back & get some grub, since it was past our normal lunch time.  See how gorgeous the water in Mexico is?  There were some truly magnificent views since the ruins are right on the coast.  I can never get enough of ocean views like these!

Once we make the trek back to civilization, we spotted an air conditioned restaurant and that’s where we headed.  We had to eat some authentic Mexican food while in Mexico.  So we ordered some Coke, which Stephanie tried to spill…actually, she was successful & they had to bring out the mop.  Next time I’ll bring her a sippy cup!  Anyways, we ordered our food…I didn’t get what I ordered since I confused him by trying to get cheese on my chicken enchiladas instead of green sauce, so I ended up with cheese enchiladas with no sauce….basically a quesadilla, but it hit the spot.

When we were all done, we headed back for the bus ride back to the ferry.  This time I believe the ferry ride back was a lot rougher than in the morning.  We sat on the lower deck in the a/c on the trip back, so we sat up front which is enclosed and has windows all around it you would have thought we were going through a car wash the way the water was hitting the windows.  We were rocking so much, we had to keep ourselves entertained so keep from getting motion sick.  I think Stephanie had a death grip on my arm as she sang, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” as I laughed hysterically.  One of those memories I’ll think back on in a few years and literally laugh out loud.

Once we hit shore, we jumped on board the ship & got cleaned up super quick, so we could make it to dinner with our table.  And then we ended the night by posing for more silly pics.  The End.