Thursday, December 31, 2015

Disney World {2015}

Well, it may have taken me six months but I wasn't about to let this amazing trip go un-documented!  I'm kicking myself that 90% of the photos I took were iphone photos... and I don't even have the excuse of not having my real dslr with me.  Oh, well!

 As cliche as it sounds, taking a six-year-old, four-year-old, and one-year-old to Disney World truly was magical!  It helped that we went with an entourage of built-in nannies :) That may be my #1 suggestion for anyone trying to plan their trip with little ones!  Going with my entire family meant everyone got to experience each age-appropriate part of the resort and everyone took turns with those not quite big enough to do everything.  It was wonderful.

We stayed on the resort at the Yacht Club-- which we simply adore.  This was our second stay at this hotel and it just doesn't disappoint.  My very favorite part is the pool-- its attached to the Beach Club, the neighboring hotel, and the pool has SAND in it.  This was a massive hit with my crew.

This was a reward trip from my Dad & Kreg's company which really is my favorite way to travel!  Our first day they hosted a welcome banquet for us at the resort and had all the characters there for a meet and greet-- we knocked out all our autographs & character photos this way without the giant lines-- it was a perfect way to start out the trip for my boys!  I love the photo of our whole group with Mickey & Minnie!

After the welcome banquet we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the pools!  It was a good way to gear up for the week and recover from our early morning travels.  We had a light dinner on the patio and enjoyed the fireworks off the pier behind our hotel.
We had the park hopper passes which were perfect for us for the week.  Kreg, our master planner, got all our fast passes loaded onto our magic bands (oh my goodness, I love those things) and we planned our days out based on those times.  We used the My Disney Experience app to monitor wait times at the rides we didn't have fast passes for so we really didn't spend much time waiting in lines at all.  More on that later.

Our first park day we spent at Animal Kingdom.  This was our hottest day of all so the Kali River Rapids was exceptionally welcome-- everyone but Brooks was able to ride so we went in two groups and everyone loved it!  Westin was not a huge fan of "It's Tough to be a Bug" but the rest of us thought it was great-- especially since it was air conditioned!  Brooks comforted Wes as we were leaving the theater which I thought was precious (middle right photo below!).  The Jungle Trek is just awesome, friends.  Don't miss it.  I cried through the Lion King show because I have 3 sweet little boys who love the Lion King and it's just plain emotional to watch them take it all in and make memories that will stick with me forever.  How does Disney do that??  Everyone got naps in, thanks to those awesome nannies I was telling you about and my trusty double Britax B-Ready stroller!  We didn't even feel the need to head back to the room for naps this day, which helped us fit in everything we wanted to at Animal Kingdom.

Another highlight of the Animal Kingdom was the Dinosaur ride!  It took some coaxing to convince Westin to ride with us and he became well versed in the concept of "animatronics" and was quick to confirm that each ride was ONLY animatronics, right? :) Sweet boy.  Tucker, at 39 3/4" was coached by Kreg on how to stand up tall and take a deep breath each time he was measured so he could ride with us :) I really think his Keen sandals with the thick sole helped us out too!  I'm so glad he made the cut because that little adrenaline junkie LOVED the rides!
 That evening we had another company-hosted party and it was AWESOME.  They reserved the Dinoland section of the Animal Kingdom park so we had all the Dinoland attractions to ourselves.  They served a yummy cajun-style dinner and we had a private showing of Nemo: The Musical, which was super cute.

 I'm bummed I didn't take more pictures of that evening, but I did get an awesome video of the boys & Aunt Tay- Tay doing the Cupid Shuffle at dinner!  She's such a cool aunt.

The next day we started off with a hearty breakfast at the hotel before heading out for our first Magic Kingdom day.  Everyone knew one day at the Magic Kingdom wouldn't be enough for this crew so we divided it into two days-- the first day we did Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Frontierland.  Brooks and I spent some quality time together in Frontierland while the rest of the crew did Big Thunder Mountain Railroad & Splash Mountain.  To this day, Splash Mountain is the ride the boys keep talking about wanting to do again :).  Brooks' infatuation with Mickey began about this time so there was plenty of Mickey paraphernalia to keep him occupied!  He thought his Mickey Robeez were the greatest thing ever.  Seriously, its the little things!  Another side note for those planning to do this trip in the summertime with a baby-- STROLLER FAN!!  We bought this one and it was a life saver.  Yes, people poked fun, but you know deep down they just wished they had one too.  And I used the excuse "we're from Colorado" at least ten times a day ;). 

One of my favorite memories of this trip was when Kreg, Westin, and I got to ride Space Mountain together.  Westin was so excited to be able to do this one with us and we had built it up all day, saving it for one of our very last rides.  He looks so serious on the ride photo itself but when we finished he was SO PROUD and said it was AWESOME.  The bottom photo pretty much sums it up.  If there is one regret I have from the whole trip, its that we didn't end up eating at the Be Our Guest restaurant-- we called 2 months in advance to get reservations and found out you really need to call 6 months in advance when they start taking the reservations... especially if you are traveling with 11 people!  So, that's at the top of the list for the next trip!
 Our next day we decided to split between Epcot & Hollywood Studios since they are smaller and there was less that we felt like we just HAD to do at those parks.  We started off with another company-hosted banquet buffet where Westin had his (ahem) fair share, of bacon.  And then proceeded to stuff some more in his mouth and arms as we walked out.  Not that I can blame him-- doing Disney works up an appetite! I got roughly 20,000 steps a day on my FitBit so you know his little legs probably got twice that many.  And he very rarely jumped in the stroller.

At Epcot, the "big people" did the Test Track while Tucker, Brooks, and I checked out Nemo & the aquarium.  Then we met up for lunch-- and let's be honest, eating is one of my favorite things to do at Epcot.  Some day I may just have to stop for something in each country.  We agreed on England and had some yummy fish & chips before jumping on the ferry to head to Hollywood Studios.

The boys both did Tower of Terror with Kreg... seriously, I'm in big trouble with all these adrenaline junkies.  They weren't in a huge hurry to do it again, though!  The bigs did Rock 'n' Roller Coaster while the littles & I Chief watched the Little Mermaid show-- which actually kept all of their attention really well, especially Tucker who I had convinced to watch it with me not long before this trip.  I know that doing Disney with 3 girls would have been a COMPLETELY different experience, but at least they didn't run full speed away from anything that had to do with princesses.  They're very thoughtful to accommodate their mommy's childhood loves!  We got caught in a giant electrical storm at Hollywood Studios that afternoon so we hung out at the Backlot Express and snacked and watched the storm while we waited for it to pass.  That evening we ate at Mama Melrose's for dinner & finished just in time to catch the Fireworks and head to the late showing of Fantastmic.  Where I once again bawled like a baby because that's what Disney does to me.  I have such vivid memories of that show over the past 20 years of my life and I love that its been special to me in so many phases of life.  Seeing it with my babies drove home how quickly childhood passes!  I'm thankful for these reminders even if it is painful to think about-- it reminds me to live in the moment and soak in the memories because I'm really not very good at doing that.  I'm very task-oriented and goal-driven and my day to day typically consists of checklists and focusing on results rather than enjoying all the little things.  I'm working on it though! 

Speaking of time flying, Tucker Kreg turned four during our trip!  I really can't think of a better way for a four year old to spend his birthday than at Disney World.  He got to wear this "Happy Birthday" button all week & all the Cast Members wished him Happy Birthday everywhere we went.  He also got plenty of special treats & a special Buzz Lightyear souvenir courtesy of Chief & Mimi.  We adore this sweet boy & the special place he has in our hearts.  Life would simply not be the same without him!  Thank you, God, for our Tucker!
In other milestones, Brooks took his first steps on our trip!  My brother sat him down in the lobby of the Convention center and he shocked us all by taking 4 steps towards Kreg!  Seriously, guys-- this place is magic and I love love love it. Thanks to my sister Kortney for getting this video a few minutes later and to Taylor for bribing him with her phone.  It takes a village.

A video posted by kortney (@kortney_alacyn) on

Our last day the parks we went back to Magic Kingdom & almost the whole day in Fantasyland.  Kreg was a trooper and indulged my desire to dress us all in Mickey t-shirts.  Thanks, babe!  We had a fast pass for the new 7 Dwarves ride and looking back I'm almost bummed that we did because the line queue is awesome!  They seriously have outdone themselves on the line queues-- and many of them are air conditioned... we may have to take this into consideration when planning out fast passes next time!  Brooks was a big fan of It's a Small World just like Tucker was when we took him as a baby.  You just have to do it every time :)
We stopped and took in some parade magic this time and enjoyed some cold treats. Brooks was so excited to see the Mickey floats-- my heart, guys.  My heart. I'm really not joking about the line queues.  My very favorite one of all was the Peter Pan's flight line.  They've recently redone it and the line queue takes you through the Darling's house and it's just precious.  Tinkerbell is all over the place and interacts with the kids thanks to some kind of amazing technology.  It was just as fun if not more fun than the ride itself. 
Dinner that night was at about 10:30 pm... but when we finally stopped we headed to Downtown Disney and did The Rainforest Cafe.  I forget how much there is to do at Downtown Disney, it's easy to overlook it when you're go-go-going at the parks.
It's the Good family's tradition to squeeze a day at Cocoa Beach in when we are in Orlando.  We strategically placed our beach day at the very end of the week this time and it was brilliant.  Everyone was exhausted from our week of parks and some beach time was just what the doctor ordered.  Taylor took a few family photos for us which I'm so thankful for!  After that we did lunch on the pier and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging and exploring and watching our 3 little fishies act like they were made for the ocean. 
After a lovely day at the beach, we cleaned up at our hotel and had dinner and souvenir shopped at the Boardwalk behind our hotel-- we ate at Big River Grille & Brewing Works and it was awesome.  Definitely going to remember that one for the next trip.  It was one of the prettiest nights EVER.  It had rained just before we headed out to dinner so it cooled down the air to a very comfortable temperature and the sky was just unreal. It was the absolute perfect way to reflect on the week and enjoy our last evening.  We watched the fireworks across the bay from our patio seat at the Grille and headed to bed at a decent time in order to get up early and head home.  

I'm so very, very grateful for the precious memories made this week and for the chance to get away with all my people! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The First Day of School

Maybe I'm being overly dramatic, but I feel like we've just entered an entirely new phase of life:  We have a kindergartener.  I'm sure Kreg would be the first to tell you I've been moody about this day for weeks now-- worrying about every little detail of what's to come.  Sigh.  I know better.  I just can't help it.  In addition to the worrying I've been mourning the passing of my staying-at-home-with-babies-exclusively phase. We're tied down to a school schedule now so that will inevitably change things.  We'll be missing our Westin half days Monday- Thursday... it will change the dynamic at home.  

Before you plan an intervention for me, let me assure you I do realize it's not as bad as I'm making it out to be!  I do pledge to do better with my attitude and will work on embracing this new phase of life for all the excitement it has to offer.  I wouldn't want to miss out on any of the joy of this phase because I'm missing the last one!  We will get into a new routine and we will love it too.  

So, Westin started school today!  I shared some special time with him last night after his bath before I said goodnight and he was SO very excited.  Not an ounce of apprehension in that child-- he clearly didn't get my worry gene, thank you, Lord.  We read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and I only teared up slightly.  Wes kissed my hand when we were done reading it so I'd have all his love and kisses anytime I miss him-- he obviously knows I'm going to be the one who needs the kissing hand, not him! 
Westin is attending The Classical Academy here in the Springs, just a few minutes from our house.  It's a charter school with an emphasis on classical learning, character and values.  We've been so pleased with every interaction we've had with them so far and are thankful for such a great option in our community.  I think my favorite thing so far has been the way they do the first day of Kindergarten... parents go too :) So I suppose before I get too happy with myself for making it through the day without tears, I should remind myself that I still have yet to drop him and leave him.  However, the first day was a success regardless.  Kreg has meetings in Denver all day today and tomorrow so he wasn't able to come, but I spent the morning with Westin helping him get settled in and I'm so thankful for that special time!  Special thanks to Nanny Kortney for keeping my little ones!

On the way in we said a prayer together and I touched on the things we discussed at our pre-back-to-school-date: that he will learn to be a great student, a great leader, a great helper, and be a blessing to the people he sees each day.  The ONLY time I teared up all day was when he asked if he could say a prayer for me before we got in the carpool line.  I wish I had it recorded but it went something very close to this: 

Dear God, please protect my mommy's heart while I'm at school so she doesn't miss me too much and please make sure someone helps her when she's at the grocery store.  Amen. 

Goodness what a sweet boy I have!

A big part of today's "practice" was practicing the carpool line... so I dropped him off in the carpool line, parked, and met him in his classroom.  When I got in there he had already found his seat and was waiting patiently, all smiles.  I'm kicking myself because he had a precious gift for his teacher that I didn't get a photo of-- but he gave his teacher a little terra cotta pot (decorated by himself) of yellow mums and she was delighted.
 We got all of his supplies put away and guess what book was read for story time?  Yup.  The Kissing Hand. Are you as shocked as I am that I held it together?  It was very sweet, and Westin had lots of input, of course, since it was fresh on his mind.  We did a little craft together to go along with the story when we were done and then he was off to recess while the parents finished up a few things with his teacher.  Then it was off to practice the carpool pick-up process.  

 I'm so thankful for a great start for Wes, and for me.  I know this new phase will come with its own challenges, but I will choose to focus on the blessings that come as well.  It's hard to be too negative when my boy is so excited!  Wish me luck tomorrow, friends. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Boys Birthday Bash {2015}

We did another giant combined birthday party again this year!  Our boys' birthdays all fall within a 6-week period so it just makes sense.  At least right now!  They have a pretty easy time agreeing on a theme (TMNT this year, of course), they have many of the same friends, and they're best buds!  

We felt SO very blessed this year as their outdoor party was planned on a week when we had torrential downpours EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I just know God heard their sweet little prayers asking for good weather because we were blessed with a perfect little pocket of sunshine & 75 degrees for the entirety of the party.  Thank you, God!

The most ridiculous thing I did for the party this year was make 50 ninja masks...  good grief.  I should have just bought them!  It was a labor of love, however... and my boys enjoyed them! Worth all twelve hours of sewing. 

 My Dad said at his last count we had roughly 65 people at the party.  We ordered 14 pizzas and had WAY TOO MUCH leftover.  Either people were being overly polite or my family consumes way more pizza than the average... I fear it may be the latter.  However, after living on leftover pizza the entire week after the party, we may have cured our love for the stuff.  Maybe.
 Kreg is in the running for Dad of the Year because he made the cake pops!  From scratch.  I handed him the recipe and he went to town.   He made 80 of them, all of which were consumed before I had a chance to try them.  So I'm guessing they were amazing.  And thanks to my mom & grandma for tying all the "ninja masks" on 80 cake pops.   

 Thank you to all our wonderful friends & family who made this such a special day for our boys! It wouldn't have been the same without each of you.  Your thank you notes are on their way & I apologize if we didn't thank you for the correct gift... the free-for-all mass opening wasn't quite what I had planned so I probably missed something here or there.  Just know you were a blessing to us and we are so thankful you came out to celebrate with us!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Brooks Smashes Cake

Well this was so fun.  I didn't do this for my first two boys, so I nearly didn't do it for Brooks either but I just couldn't help myself.  We had ourselves a little cake smash session!  Except Brooks is just too well-mannered to smash his food... so technically we had a cake poke at session.  But we had a blast doing it-- and by we I mean myself, Tucker, and Westin-- Westin the bubble blower, Tucker the silly face maker.  Couldn't have done it without them! Happy birthday, baby Brooks!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dear Brooks {Happy 1st Birthday}

Sweet, sweet Brooks: today you are one!! You have blessed each of us with your sweetness each day of this past year. We are all so thankful that you belong to us and it has been pure delight watching you grow by leaps and bounds and develop into your own little person. You are smart. You are sweet. You are tough. You are funny. You are active. You have the very best smile and it is so incredibly infectious! You have affected all of us by your addition to our family and it has been such a joy as your mommy to watch how your brothers have grown because of your presence. They have become protectors and nurturers and are just tickled at every new milestone you reach. They are your biggest fans and you are theirs. I pray for your relationships each day and hope that you three will always be blessed with the strength you draw from each other. We love you to the moon and back, Brooks William! This year has been marked by so much growth and change. We are excited to watch you as you continue to develop your personality and find your place in our world. We pray that you will always know you are loved-- by your family and by your Heavenly Father who watches over you and has great plans for your precious life! 

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Zephaniah 3:17 

I love you sweet boy! Happy birthday! 


Thursday, May 14, 2015

To Westin

 Darling boy:

Today you are six!  I love sitting down each year to reflect on your growth and to marvel at our God's handiwork in you.  Do you know how much I love you?  I love you fiercely.  I know you like to "one up" me on the know-how-much-I-love-you game... but I have a secret.  I always win!  Someday you'll understand, but for now, its enough that you know I love you as much as you can possibly imagine.  I will always be thankful that you made me a mommy!

It's been another wonderful year of getting to know you! This year I watched you grow in your role as "big brother" and "helper." Your love for Tucker and our little Brooks is so endearing!  I've told you many times that one of your gifts from God is the gift of "protector" and you take it very seriously.  I see your protective nature come out as you care for your brothers, as you defend your soccer goal, as you play Superheroes, and in your concern for every living creature-- even the slugs in the dirt!  Brooks loves your playfulness and silliness and your willingness to play with him! Tucker looks up to you for every little thing.  I know he has a special way of pushing your buttons but he can't stand it when you're away too long.  He's going to miss you so very much when you start school in the fall! 

I know I can always count on you to find new ways to help. From making beds and putting away laundry to pulling weeds to entertaining Brooks and helping me cook, you are a wonderful help to me! Thank you for your eagerness and willingness to exercise your servant's heart.  The blessings it brings to this world will extend far beyond me and your home. 

You are the biggest lover of people that I know.  Your big, social personality is pushing me out of my comfort zone and teaching me to be better at loving people too.  I'm so sorry for the days that I fail you in this area! I'm working on it, I promise.

Thank you for being my precious son and my sweet little friend.  I enjoy our time together and I'm finding it so hard to imagine giving any of that up as you begin your kindergarten career.  I know you're going to love it, though!  Your love of learning and people will make school such a delight for you and I'm excited to watch you excel in all the new loves you find this year and in the years to come.

Have the happiest of birthdays, my love! I'm praying 1 Cor. 16:13-14 over you this year:  Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.

With ALL my heart,


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spring, so far {2015}

 We kicked off our spring right this year-- with a getaway! We tagged along with Kreg on a business trip to Phoenix, AZ and seized the opportunity to see my grandparents in Green Valley, AZ and soak up some sunshine & RR over a long weekend.  It was delightful. 

Highlights of the trip:

Reid Park Zoo

 The Pool at our hotel

 Visiting Grumpy & Grandmaw
 One of the goals Kreg & I made this year was to run a 5k each quarter. With the crazy schedule this year holds, we knew fitness was going to be something that would easily be overlooked.  We may not be making it to the gym 5 days a week... but we're staying conditioned enough to run a 5k!  And we're proud of that with all that's being demanded of our time in 2015! Our first race on the list was the St. Patrick's Day 5k in downtown Colorado Springs.  It did not disappoint!  We signed Westin & Tucker up for the kids fun run (1/2 mile) so they ran their first race with us on St. Patrick's Day!  They loved it! They were so excited to wear their bibs and participate in all the hoopla.  I think they're hooked!  And Kreg and I were SO proud.  Special thanks to my dad, Chief, for being on nanny duty.  We could not have done it without you!

 Easter was fantastic this year! As always, I enjoyed dressing up my boys (yes, dressing boys is FUN!) and spending time with family.

 After church and egg hunting and Easter baskets, we were blessed to have lunch with all these wonderful people.  So thankful to have family close when it comes time for holidays!

 L to R: Kevin, Taylor, Drake, Morgan, Victor, Tami, Westin, Kevin, Tucker, Kortney, Keleigh, Brooks, Kreg, Amanda

Hope your spring is off to a fabulous start like ours is, friends.  Praying God's richest blessings on you and yours today!