Monday, January 31, 2011

Trip Report: Day 2

It has kind of become a tradition that we must go to the Magic Kingdom on the first full day and last full day of our trips to Disney. Nothing says Disney magic like this place! We set our alarm for 7am and planned to leave the resort by 8am.

Even though we had two hotel rooms for our family of 6, when we all were awake and trying to move around it was chaotic! We immediately set up some sort of organization that the kids could understand. We had a place for them to line up their shoes, a place for them to throw their dirty laundry, a diaper drawer for Allie, and we dragged our two chairs into their room so that there was a table with 4 chairs for them to eat at.

Before I tell about our wonderful first day at Magic Kingdom, I want to share a few tips about strollers. Last year we used the Disney double strollers that you can rent at each park. The Make a Wish Foundation gave us a pass that allowed us to rent them for free. This was a huge blessing because each double stroller costs $31 per day, or $27 a day for multiple days. Either way, renting two doubles for the 6 days we were at the parks would have cost us $350+. If we rented from Disney, the kids would have had to walk to and from the parks each day, and believe me after 8-10 hours at a park, the kids aren’t doing much walking after we leave the front gate!

This year I did some research and found a company called Magic Strollers. They are a non-Disney company that delivers your strollers right to your resort. We picked our strollers up from the luggage area the day we arrived, used them all week, then returned them the morning we left right at our resort. We used them when we weren’t at the parks, which is a huge advantage over renting at each front gate. They were very clean, so easy to collapse and push, and the kids were able to sleep in them which they didn’t last year in the Disney strollers. The best part? For two doubles, delivered to our resort, for 8 days, it cost only $219 including all taxes and optional theft/damage insurance! I know that sounds like a lot of money, but it was money well spent. We don’t have double strollers at home anymore, but the kids definitely still need them at their age at Disney.

Back to the trip…we arrived at Magic Kingdom with plenty of time for the rope-drop show! There is an adorable show every morning on the train station platform. Several of the characters arrive on the train at the end of the show, and then there is a mad dash to the front gate! So exciting:)

Here are the grandparents, every bit as excited as the kids!


Here is our first family shot, minus half of Matt’s head!


Here is the part in the trip report where I admit that I did quite a bit of planning before our trip. I didn’t want to have every minute planned out, but I know enough about Disney to know that if you want to maximize your fun time and minimize your wait time, then you need to kind of have an idea of what to do and when. From everything I read, it is best to hustle to Fantasyland (where all the rides geared to small kids are) first thing in the morning. Most people arrive at the parks mid morning so by mid-day Fantasyland is packed, therefore hitting those rides first things is the best bet.

We followed this plan on our first day, and it worked out great! We rode pretty much every Fantasyland ride in the first hour that morning. There were virtually no lines at all! Later in our trip we would find out that the crowds would get much worse, but for Wednesday, the park was really slow!

Another awesome part of the low crowds that day was getting to meet many of the characters with little or no wait! Right after a bathroom break (I wish I could have kept track of how many bathroom breaks we had in 8 days!) we stumbled upon Pinocchio! I told Eli and Cara to hold hands to not get separated as we walked up to meet him. I’m so glad I did, because look how cute they looked!



While the big kids rode the carousel, I captured my favorite picture of Allie of the whole trip!



The evil stepsisters, two of the funniest characters at Disney.



One of the most exciting parts of our day was meeting up with honorary Grandma Lynn and Grandpa Wes who spend their winters in Florida! After they joined us, we were an even bigger, happier group of 11:)

After we finished up Fantasyland, we headed over to Adventureland. This is where we ran into a string of bad luck. We wanted to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, a Williams family favorite. We got in line, and then the line just kind of stopped. It moved again after 10 minutes, then it stopped again. It became clear that something was wrong with the ride, so after wasting 30 minutes, we decided to ditch the ride and try again later. The funny part was, we went through an exit door that was nearby…but it didn’t lead to the main park area. We ended up “backstage”, along with like 10 other people, in an area clearly only meant for employees. We eventually found our way out and back to Adventureland.

Our bad fortune didn’t end there. Last year we all really enjoyed eating at Liberty Tree Tavern, so we decided to cut over to Liberty Square to eat. As we went to cut through, we were stopped by several employees who told us that the area we were trying to get through was closed. We could see a fireman and several park personnel gathered around the building ahead. They asked where we were going, and they told us that the restaurant was closed down for whatever this emergency was too.

So in our first hour, we rode everything in Fantasyland, and in our second hour we had done absolutely nothing! We eventually ended up at Pecos Bill Cafe for lunch. It is a counter service place and I thought that the food was pretty good! On average, we were able to feed our family of 6 at counter service places for around $36-$38. Matt and I each ordered a meal & drink for around $10-12 a piece, and then the kids split two kids’ meals for $5-6 a piece. I would then purchase two extra drinks for the kids and we were all set. Sometimes it wasn’t enough food to split among the kids, other times it was WAY more than enough. We always had extra food on our plates to share with them. If you consider that we ate breakfast in our room and packed our snacks, we spent roughly $80 a day to feed our family of 6 at Disney. Not too shabby.

After lunch we had a big surprise for the boys! Given that Eli and Brady are so into pirates these days, we knew that we had to take them to the Pirates League. This isn’t included in your park admission, but we splurged a little and took them to get their very own pirate makeovers. They each got a pirate name, their face painted like a pirate by a pirate, took a pirate oath, received swords, scarves, & medallions, and got to go into the secret treasure room. They both were quite stunned throughout the entire experience, a combination of being overwhelmed and exhausted.

Here they are getting their new pirate names…Nathaniel Sunbane and Jason Lockmonger. I brought their pirate shirts from home, rather than pay extra to buy one there.


Eli chose a pirate with a black eye and scar. The pirate lady doing his make up started off by holding her fist to him and saying, “Do you want your black eye the old fashioned way?” He promptly winced and started to cry, “No!!!” I nicely told her that she was dealing with a sensitive pirate…after that, she toned it down:)


Brady chose the Captain Hook look.


After their faces got painted, they had to take the Pirate Oath. Can you see that cute little smile underneath that beard and scarf?


The four of us got to go into the secret treasure room, but no cameras were allowed!


And here they are…my little pirates…Nathaniel and Jason. Can’t wait to show them this picture in 15 years!


While Matt, the boys, and I were having all of this fun doing boy stuff, the girls and the other 5 adults were over at Mickey’s Toon Town Fair. I thought a great use of time would be for the girls to wait in line to meet the princesses. I had read that this line can be up to an hour and a half, but they only waited 20 minutes! Allie had fallen asleep in her stroller, so Grandpa and Wes waited outside with her. Cara had Grandma Kathy, Grandma Sandy, and Gramma Lynn all to herself! I’m slightly devastated that I missed it all, but am so glad that we have the pictures and video! Mom said that the princesses each really took their time with Cara. Actually, every character we met spent a lot of time with the kids. We never, ever felt rushed. These pictures are so precious to me.


070074 For the next few days, Cara just took on this gentle, graceful, princess-like way about her. She was just adorable!

Once our group met up again, we rode Pirates of the Caribbean with our own two pirates, The Magic Carpets, and the Jungle Cruise.

At 3pm we watched the Share a Dream Come True Parade for the first time ever! Last trip we took a mid day break each day for the kids’ to nap. This year, we just kind of pushed through each day, which allowed us to see the parade! It was so worth it…the kids loved it and so did we! Allie got to see her beloved Pluto for the first time! Grandma Kathy had bought an adorable Pluto charm necklace for her, and she just proudly held that necklace up when she saw Pluto in the parade. I’ll never forget it!

I only have one picture for the whole rest of our day. Honestly, Brady didn’t feel all that great throughout the day. He was kind of reserved and had a few episodes of diarrhea after lunch. After changing him a few times, I was out of extra clothes! It was dinner time, we were all exhausted and he wasn’t feeling well. We had planned to stay through to the 8pm fireworks, but decided that we had all had enough.

We headed back to Pop Century to get dinner and get Brady settled in. After we ate dinner, I brought dinner up to Matt and Brady who were back in the room. Cara, Eli, and Allie got to be in the Pop Century Parade which takes place nightly in the main building. This resort plays the best music…all the best songs from the 50s-90s. For the parade, they carry a big radio playing a fun song and all the kids follow along banging on instruments. They walk all through the food court, store, and check in area.


That was the longest day recap ever! We definitely fit a lot into our first full day! Oh wait, there was more to Wednesday. After the kids settled in bed, I went and did laundry! I started to panic that we would run out of underwear for everyone:) A momma’s work never ends!

Tomorrow we would take on Epcot and have some more special visitors!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Disney 2011 Trip Report: Day One

Welcome to our Disney 2011 Trip Report! Keep reading if you want to know the details of our 8 day trip. Matt and I LOVE Disney, so sharing our trips on the blog is fun for us and a great way to capture our memories. We also hope it might help other families planning Disney trips, or at least encourage some to consider a trip to the most Magical Place on Earth! Skip to the pictures if you want the short version:)

Here is an overview of our trip.

When:January 18-25th

Who:Our family (Matt, me, Eli, Cara, Brady, & Allie), my mom, and Matt's Parents for a grand total of 9

Where: POP Century (a Disney value resort). A far cry from last year's Grand Floridian accommodations, but a very fun place to stay if you are traveling with kids!

Why: What better place to vacation with 4 kids under 4? Disney is the perfect place to vacation with toddlers. We were able to take advantage of almost-free airfare using credit card points and also had a great discount on our rooms through a friend (we need two rooms due to the size of our family, so this discount was key to us affording our trip!). We packed all of our snacks, ate breakfast in our room, and only bought the kids one souvenir each. Disney can be affordable!

Day One: Travel Day
Our flight was out of Buffalo at 8:45am flying JetBlue. We left our house at around 6:30am. In total, our family had 6 suitcases, 2 carry on suitcases, 5 backpacks, and my tote bag. I worked for weeks trying to meticulously pack things in order to stay more organized than last year. I put each child's clothes for each day in a gallon size Ziploc bag (including shorts/pants, shirt, undies, undershirt, socks). I thought this system would be flawless and would allow us to just easily pull out 4 Ziplocs for each day of our trip. After day 1 though, I realized that I had forgotten to account for all of the extra clothes the kids go through in a week. I was constantly pulling extra undies or shirts from the bags after swim time, bath time, or when they kids got dirty. I think I would use this system again, but would keep undies and socks in a separate bag!
We gave Allie some anti nausea medicine before leaving the house. We knew our biggest challenge with her motion sickness would be the 40 minute car ride to the airport. We were right on that one. Just as we pulled into the airport, she threw up all over. I thought I would just about lose it as we had to pull up to departing flights and unload all the kids and all 13 of our bags quickly so that Matt could bring the van to long term parking. Now I had to change Allie's clothes standing next to the car, clean up as much throw up as I could from the car that would be sitting there for the next 8 days, and get us all inside. It worked out okay, and Allie was a trooper despite being undressed when it was only 25-30 degrees outside.

The kids were super excited and we were too!!! We got checked in without incident and through security easily. The man checking tickets at security asked each of the kids how old they were. The triplets each answered, "3" and when he asked Allie, she smiled and said, "I'm 5!" Oi.

We were seated 3 to a row in 3 consecutive rows on the plane. Grandma and Grandpa sat with Brady, Matt and I sat with Allie, and my mom sat with Cara and Eli. I had packed the kids' backpacks with inexpensive but "new" things for them to do. They each had stickers, a small tub of playdoh, a Disney themed fun pack, a small puzzle, snacks, and a few other things. The flight was smooth and the kids did great. Allie is always a little challenging, but even she was a good girl for the 2 1/2 hour flight.

Allie sitting between Matt and I. It takes two to tango with this little terror!

We kept holding the "barf bag" in front of her mouth. She just laughed, grabbed it from us, and used it as a puppet!

One of the biggest perks of staying at a Disney resort is being picked up at the airport by their free bus service called Magical Express. We checked our bags back in Buffalo and didn't have to worry about them until they were delivered to us at our resort! All we had to do was find the Magical Express line at the airport. After about a 10 minute wait, our bus pulled up and we were on our way with just our carry on bags!

We arrived at Pop Century and it was a wonderful 75 degrees with gorgeous sun! Our rooms weren't quite ready, so we grabbed lunch from the food court. After that we were able to check into our rooms. We paid a few extra dollars a night to be in a preferred location, meaning that we were close to the main building and the bus stop (a must for us because of the kids). Matt and I had an adjoining room with the kids, then my mom had a room, and then his parents. For 6 nights of our trip, Matt and I had no one on the other side of us, so it was a pretty quiet spot.
We pretty much dropped our bags and got the kids into their swimsuits. We weren't going to waste a minute of this beautiful weather considering we left freezing temps and snow behind that morning! We were off to the Hippy Dippy Pool, Pop Century's main swimming area. We never actually went in the main pool, but instead used the splash pool that is much better suited for toddlers. The kids LOVED it. Allie is still talking about the "Hippy Dippy!"

The kids totally just let loose! The girls have always been much more of water babies than the boys. They get right in and lay, run, and splash in the water. The boys liked to go in and out, and Brady especially needed to get out and dry off every few minutes. It was an awesome way to kick off our vacation:)

After swimming and dinner, we decided to walk around and explore our resort a bit more before getting to bed. Pop Century is themed based on each decade from 1950 to 1990. Each building is a 4 story motel-style unit with big iconic statues representing toys from that decade. It's not the most beautiful place on Disney property, but the kids loved it and it grew on me throughout the week.

After traveling all day, swimming, then walking around for an hour, we were all feeling like this...

It was time to get everyone tucked into bed. The boys shared a double bed (first time ever for them!), Cara had her own double bed, and Allie was in a pack and play. Of course we had packed a whole suitcase full of stuffed "friends", blankets, pillows, white-noise machines, and even Allie's beloved bumper that she uses as a pillow. It took a bit to get them to settle down, but this was the only night that was a problem. For the next 7 days we would completely exhaust them (and ourselves) having a wonderful time.

Tomorrow...Magic Kingdom and two little boys become pirates for the day!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


The Williams clan has returned from our Disney adventure!

Pictures and recap will be coming soon.

I'm trying to get out from underneath some laundry piles! There is also the task of getting the kids back on a normal, not-quite-so-magical routine:)

Here's a little sneak peek!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's All about Perspective

Some things really stink

Your camera (which is super awesome and takes great pictures without an annoying delay) breaks just before your family vacation. That stinks.

You drop your son's urine off at a lab 50 minutes from your house. This lab is on the back of the requisition that was given to you in regards to said urine. You wait a week to find out if your child's tumor is growing based on the results of that urine test only to find out that the lab you dropped it off at isn't equipped to run that test. The urine needs to be recollected and you have to start all over again. That stinks.

I had a few hours of pouting about my camera. The idea of using a traditional digital while on vacation makes me cringe. I'm mad that this lab didn't think to call me immediately upon realizing that they don't do this test so that I could deliver the sample to another lab. Grrr...

Then I stumble upon this link. This is when the minuscule annoyances of my life become so insignificant as my heart breaks for this family who is suffering unspeakably. This is when I'm humbled by the precious grace of God evidenced by the selfless act of these beautiful moms (at least one of whom I met while we were in NYC).

I don't want to be a whiny woman with a broken camera or a mom fed up with the inefficiency of a lab. I want to be like these moms...they truly get it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Back on the Horse

It seems as though every time I sit down to blog these days, I have less to say and more days have passed since I last said something!

Does this mean I have less going on, certainly it doesn't feel like that.
Does it mean I just have become a great big juggling act in recent months? I think that is more like it.

I also find myself much more pensive than I can ever recall being in my life. Certain seasons of life lend themselves to this more than others, I'm learning. Thinking about we've been, where we are, and where we going is often on my mind. Then I have this revelation that perhaps I should spend more time thinking about where I've been, where I am, and where I am going. But then there are meals to be made, laundry to fold, and books to be read. So with so little time for thinking, it is no wonder that time for writing is hard to come by!

We are nearing the two year anniversary of Brady's diagnosis and the beginning of this blogging adventure of mine. There are days when I can only vaguely recall the details of our "cancer-life" and there are days when I still weep for what we lost that day. Thankfully Matt always reminds me of how amazing Brady's recovery has been and what a miracle his progress has been in light of the seriousness of the injury to his spinal cord. I too spend many days relishing in the mighty work God has done through Brady. There are days when every jump across the floor that he makes, every sight of him playing musical chairs at preschool, and every sweet kiss he gives me makes me tingle all over with pure thankfulness.

So, please know that I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to continue writing, sharing, and telling our story. After all, there is a great Disney adventure on the horizon that I can't wait to tell you about:)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Our Life These Days

We are back in the swing of things around here. I welcome the return of the routine, although it is hard to leave the memories of family time and holiday fun behind.

There has been a big change in our house in the last few weeks. Since Allie was born 2 years ago, we have always had a "triplet bedroom" and "Allie's bedroom." A few days after Christmas, I looked at Matt and told him, "today is the day we should move Cara into Allie's room." He agreed, and we went for it! We told Cara that it was time for she and Allie to share a girly room together! We moved several of of the girls' toys in there and a dresser. This of course made more room in the boys' room, so many of their boy toys got moved into their new room for two! So we have 2 in each room, clearly gender-defined, and Matt and I have reclaimed some space in our house. Not a lot of space, but some!

In Brady news, it is already time for his 3 month urine check. We collected the sample today (which was like a comedy routine with 3 small people watching!) and I am dropping it off at a lab tomorrow. I have some moments of worry lately (what else is new?) as Brady is quite clingy and also has been doing this strange eye tick thing. Some days I'm ready to drag him to the oncologist, and other days I'm able to reassure myself that he is fine. I'm very happy that we are doing this urine check. It will give us all piece of mind until our October scans.

The most exciting news in our house is that we are busy getting ready for an upcoming trip to Disney!!! We are going to be spending some amazing family time together, celebrating life!!! I never would have dreamed that after our trip in February we would be returning so soon, but we have been able to take advantage of some amazing deals and our schedule at this point in our lives makes it easier to get away. The kids are bouncing-off-the-walls excited and so are we! Our fabulous grandparents are joining us again and I think they are coutning down the days too:) Of course we will share pictures galore when we return.

Here is a great picture of the boys from the other day! My two little super heroes have the best time being brothers:)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It Was a Good Year

2010 was a good year. Well, anything that followed 2009 had to be good, right?

Instead of dealing with major health issues, this past year centered around the normal events of day to day life with our 4 under 4. The normalcy was a tremendous blessing.

It was a year of firsts. We took our first family vacation. The triplets started preschool and Sunday school. Cara started dance class. And for the first time we went 6 months between Brady's oncology appointments.

I have many wishes and prayers for 2011. I pray that God will continue to bless our family with good health and safety as we navigate through the next year. I pray that God will continue to use Brady's story to bring others closer to Him. On a more personal level, I'm praying that my heart will be filled with more joy than fear and that I will do my best to savor these precious years.

Here is a look back at our year, with one picture for each month of 2010. Happy New Year to you all. May it be filled with hope for each one of you.

January 2010 Look at these babies! And is that a diaper Eli is wearing? Make that our biggest accomplishment of 2010...potty training triplets.

February 2010 Our Make a Wish Trip to Disney

March 2010 This past year, it finally started to seem a little easier to take all the kids out of the house. Not easy, but easier:)

April 2010 Our 3 turned 3 this year!

May 2010 By the end of May the heat had already arrived in our area! We celebrated Memorial Day with family and friends.

June 2010 Having two boys and two girls was so much fun this year. They really started to buddy off as brothers and sisters. Although sometimes, they still like to show a little love to the other gender:)

July 2010 One of my favorite pictures of the year.

August 2010 We found ways to beat the heat this summer. Central air topped my list.

September 2010 My big "babies" head off to preschool.

October 2010 Halloween was just SO much fun this year!
November 2010 Our baby turned 2, going on 6.

December 2010 We ended the year in the best possible way...celebrating with family, continuing family traditions, and looking forward to the year ahead.