Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Back to Life. Back to Reality.

When we got back from Disney World we jumped right into the busyness of what the months of November and December are for our family. This year we decided to add a trip into the mix with 3 birthdays and Christmas!

The fun just never stops around here! This post is a bunch of randoms from the rest of November and early December. 
Life is never dull with this one. 

Or this one...
Did you watch all the way until the end? Whooops! He did it the time before this perfectly, turned the corner and kept speeding down the side walk. Of course when I pull out my phone to video he has a CRASH! Ha! 

Waiting for his brothers in the parking lot after school. What a cutie!

More snow time! 
He's a heartbreaker! 

And this picture just makes me laugh, snow on the ground and short sleeves- such is life in Colorado. 

Brooks packing up his box for Operation Christmas Child. 

Waiting for his Well Child Check at the Doctor's office. 

Heath's Personal Timeline Project. Love the pictures he picked and his sweet writing too! 

Heath went to his friend Jacob's birthday party at Chuck-e-Cheese. 
He had a blast riding rides and playing games with his school friends. 
And he got to meet Chuck-e which is always a HIT! 
Somehow I got the lucky job of taking Heath to the party while Mark got to take Nolan and Brooks to see The Good Dinosaur. After 2 hours of fun I was really ready for my quiet house and bed time! 

Oh the top hats...
Over a year after Uncle T and Auntie Laura's wedding and they still make appearances quite frequently around here! 

MHE Chipotle night! 
Nolan loves his burritos! 
It was funny because as we were eating, Brooks said, "Auntie, Flobby here." And we were all like, "no, no they're not." Because we had not planned to have dinner with them. But coincidentally, they chose to eat at Chipotle that night, not knowing that we were there. And in they came! It was so funny and nice to be able to randomly see them when out to dinner on a school night! 3 months ago, that could never have been the case. 

Mark got free Broncos tickets from his boss. He actually asked me if I would like to go with him. And I actually said YES! Well, up until I saw just how cold it was going to be. Somehow as Sunday approached the predicted temperature kept dropping- 41, 35, 22, 14 degrees. It took everything within me NOT to back out. I was in tears before the game just dreading the cold. Why would anybody choose to sit outside in that weather? (Really, I ask myself why would anybody watch football for 4 hours anyway, no matter the weather?! Ha!) But this crazy chick is crazy for her hubby and I did it for him! Just to make him happy.
Good thing we were able to go into the fancy dining room and eat and have complimentary drinks before and after the game to stay warm! But when it went to OT I really thought I might cry again! And luckily the Broncos beat the Patriots and I had an even happier husband. Mark and his colleagues were thrilled with the outcome. I was just thrilled to have survived! Ha! Fun memories with my husband. Thanks Mal & Bob for watching the boys! 

Next up, Heath's Birthday and Thanksgiving! 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Now it's time to say goodbye...

Our last day in Disney was spent at the pool. 

It was snowing back at home again! So we reeeaaaallly did not want to go home! 
But alas, we had to. So we went back to our room and showered, and said goodbye to Auntie and Flobby. Although, this time it was so easy! It is so nice to be able to say "Bye! See you tomorrow!" Because basically, we are lucky enough now to be able to see them whenever we want! 

Then we had our last lunch and did some shopping. We found the perfect souvenirs for all of our friends and family. 
The Disney's Magical Express picked us up in the lobby and took us back to the Orlando Airport. I had to take one last picture of my Magic Band. I just couldn't take it off. We all wore them all the way home and Brooks even slept in his that night! Such a fun reminder of a most magical trip. We made the best memories. Yes, we dealt with meltdowns. Yes, the crowds were annoying at times. But really, overall, it was the happiest place on Earth! 

We ended up being pretty delayed on our flight coming home. There was a terrible snow storm and we were so surprised that we even landed in Denver. The pilot had to attempt landing a few times and come back up to circle around a bit more because the visibility was so bad, the runways were snowy, and the gates were being moved. It was turbulent and a bit scary and I had a 5 year old that needed to pee VERY badly but could not get out of his seat because the fasten seat belts sign was on and we were preparing for landing. Only we were preparing for landing for like an hour! It was not the most fun ever, that's for sure! But we made it and got home after 1 a.m. Thank the Lord for a SNOW DAY the next day!!! 
We were able to sleep in, shovel, unpack, do laundry, and chill! It was the best gift ever considering we hadn't had a Snow Day in years! 
The boys were excited to get bundled up and jump in! From the pool to the snow in just 24 hours! 

Brooks loved making snow balls but really didn't want to dive in the snow just yet.

His brothers, on the other hand, LOVE the snow!

They built a Snow Mickey with Mark. 

And they went up to Chaparral to going sledding! 

Then it was an early bed time and back to school and work the next day.
We definitely felt like we needed a vacation from our vacation, but every second was worth it! 
The trip of a lifetime! 
Love you Johnson fam! Thank you so much for joining us! 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Animal Kingdom

At first I was unsure about using one of our park days for Animal Kingdom. I am SO not an animal person. And at first I thought we would do 2 days at MK, 1 day at Hollywood Studios, and 1 day at Epcot. But Laura said that Animal Kingdom was her favorite park and that the boys would really like it. And she was RIGHT! We had such a great day at Animal Kingdom and now I highly recommend it to anyone doing Disney! I thought it was more like a zoo, which it has areas like that, 
like this monkey exhibit, 
 but the rides and shows and attractions were so much more fun! 

We all headed to the park together that morning! 
The Christmas Tree in the front entrance was so cool! Very festive and cultural. We were ready for a fun day! 

The Tree of life is amazing and the first thing you spot when you head into the park. 

Laura recommended heading straight to the ride- DINOSAUR! The park was pretty much empty and we were able to walk on to ride after ride again this morning. DINOSAUR was such a fun ride. It was like you were on a big ATV speeding through the jungle to save a dinosaur from extinction. It was fast and wild and herky-jerky and intense! Dinosaurs pop out and come at you and at the very end it feels like you are going to get eaten. One of my favorite rides all week! After we got off, Nolan, Mark, Laura, and Bob went right back on to ride again! 

Then we spent a long while in DinoLand U.S.A.- which the boys LOVED! 
They wanted to take pictures everywhere to show their Dino Loving Cousins back in Colorado! 

Nolan, Bob, Tyler, Laura, and I rode the Primeval Whirl! This was like a carnival ride. But oddly enough, it was one of the few rides that Heath was too short for. It was a wacky, wild ride. I literally could not control my body or my laughter on it. Bob can attest to my flailing arms, flying hair, and bobbling head as our cart spun and went backwards all at the same time. It was a fun one! 

The TriceraTop Spin was a cute ride like Dumbo! 

Family fun for everyone! We went on it a few times in different pairs. My Dad even decided to take a spin on it all by himself later in the day! Ha!

And look what Grandpa found in DinoLand...
An old Bennett gas pump. That's where my Grandpa Johnson, his father, worked. This was a special find. 

DinoLand also had The Boneyard.
It was a great play land for the kids to run and climb and explore. 

They really enjoyed a place to go wild! 

Next up we headed over to It's Tough to be a Bug! While going through the line you go around and under the Tree of Life. It has these amazing and intricate carvings in it. 
Look what Laura spotted of course! 
The Bugs Life show was super fun. It was 4-D. So you wear 3D glasses, but then they also squirt and spray stuff at you and make it feel like you have bugs crawling underneath your bottom. The boys thought it was so cool to discover what it's like to be a bug! 

Next up was our Fast Pass for the Kilimanjaro Safari. This is what the park is famous for. They have created an authentic African habitat for their animals. They do a lot of work at the park to protect and preserve animals and promote conservation and green life style choices. You take a safari jeep ride through the savannah and spot animals along the way. 

(But before we could safari…we needed coffee…and Starbucks at that! We loved being able to use snack credits for coffee…which was a necessity with 3 small kids and 4 full days of parks!)
But after we were sufficiently caffeinated, we headed straight to the animals! 
We saw giraffes,
and elephants, 
and zebras,
and ostrich, 
And if you look closely you can spot the ostrich eggs. They lay them just out in the open. They pile them up but don't build a nest or bury them. That was cool to see. 
And look at those fresh prints! 

Mark and Brooks spotting some wildlife! 
And of course I had to snap a photo of the Antelope! 
The flamingos were beautiful and looked so healthy! 
The flamingos at the Denver zoo are VERY pink and stinky! These were a treat to see! 

And here are some hippos swimming. 
And some crocodiles on the beach. 

We all enjoyed learning some facts and spotting the animals living happily there in Florida! 

A Rhino! 
And some yaks.
We also saw a lion and jaguar, but they were far off and I couldn't get a good photo. But it was a neat experience for sure. 

While we were on the safari, Bob and Mal went to the Finding Nemo Musical and got a Mickey bar! The safari was not recommended for pregnant women. We were sad they couldn't ride with us! 

But we met up with them for The Festival of the Lion King! It was an incredible, interactive show! 
Brooks was happy to see Pumba because he was wearing him on his shirt that day! 
We sang and danced and made animal noises. But best of all, the boys were amazed by the acrobatic monkeys!
They were amazing gymnasts!  And stayed in character the whole time. 
This was my Dad's favorite show of the week! 

Then we headed over to our next Fast Pass which was a ride that the boys had been looking forward to all week! 
Kali River Rapids…we pulled out the ponchos for this one. Only we were 2 short. Tyler and Bob went without- figuring that depending on the way the tube twists and turns, they might not get that wet anyways.

Well, you start out slowly twisting and turning down the river with a few short little drops.  
It's basically a big family tube ride. You start out calmly but then the intensity picks up! 
I found these photos on the internet to show you just what happened next...
the water came fast and hard...
and pretend this was Tyler, sans poncho! Unfortunately, he happened to be in the one spot that got soaked the most and he didn't have a poncho. And the rest of us wearing ponchos stayed pretty much dry. Only a spot or two of water on our clothes when we took the ponchos off. But he was such a good sport about it. As we walked off the ride it was funny to watch people's reactions when they saw just how soaked Tyler was. So we happily gave some lucky people our ponchos as we passed because we didn't need them anymore. They were so grateful! 

Even though this was a ride we were really excited to go on, it didn't end up being a FAV at all. It was cool to be able to go on it all together, but it was super quick, not that exciting, and definitely not worth all the wetness! I guess it was good to say we did it, but I don't think I would need to ride it again unless it was a 100 degree Orlando day! 

Straight from that wet ride, Tyler and Laura had made lunch reservations. So he had to go to lunch sopping wet. He said there was a little puddle under his seat when he got up! He was that wet! 
But they had a nice lunch and got to meet Donald and Mickey too! 

While we were riding Kali River Rapids, Grandpa and Auntie and Brooks went to meet Mickey and Minnie again! They were cute and Christmasy this time!
Then the rest of us met up and had a delicious lunch in Asia- egg rolls, fried rice, and more! Yum! And all with our meal plan again. We loved our plan…we always had a variety and plenty to eat all week long. 

Our last Fast Pass of the day was a favorite roller coaster of the week for many! Expedition Everest! 
You can see it in the background of our Selfies! Love these Selfies! Everybody's doing it! 
It was a thrill ride! Fast, backwards, forwards, big drops, the Yeti! So awesome! It was fun to ride with Nolan…on his last roller coaster he finally decided to ride with his arms up! He gets this crazy rush of adrenaline and looooves the speed! Heath survived but was relieved to get off when the ride was done! But they were both so brave all week long! 
Bob had gotten 2 free Fast Passes because he and Mal had gotten stuck on The People Mover the day before. So he graciously gave them to Mark and Laura so that they could ride it again as soon as we got off! They LOVED it! It had gotten a bit more crowded at the park as the day went on, so they were thankful not to have to wait in a 45 minute line to ride again. However, I don't think we really waited for any ride for more than that length of time all week! We were really lucky with crowds and Fast Passes and we were able to avoid any of the 60-90 minute wait times that we saw from time to time. The Disney app was nice because you could check out wait times and pick your next ride based on which lines were shortest. 

Just outside of Everest a few of us hit up the Upcountry for some delicious frozen beverages! When in the himalayas...

Our bird lover Nolan wanted to be sure to see Flights of Wonder! 
It was pretty cool! 
The birds flew so low right over our heads.

The boys' souvenirs of the day were pressed pennies! 
They thought this was so cool…and Mommy and Daddy loved the price tag! This is just one of those nostalgic things that every child should do at some point. 

Grandma and Auntie shopped for souvenirs too! Don't they look beautiful! 

During the day we met Thumper and got our last autograph! 
Here's a picture of the autograph book I made and some examples of the pages and autographs inside. 

We also saw Dug, the dog from UP!

After a FUN day, this little guy was all tuckered out! 
We were ready to head back to The Riverside for a relaxing family fun night! 
Our last "leaving the park" pic! This time a kind guest offered to take the picture for us so that we could all be in it! 
What a great day! 

Once back at Port Orleans, we decided to rest up for a bit and then meet up for dinner. 
After dinner we celebrated this kid's upcoming 6th Birthday! Look at the excitement on his face! A sundae and a scooter! What could be better! Thanks Grandma & Grandpa for making this trip even more special for him! 
Then we hit up the pool and hot tub! 
And had a fun time drinking and reminiscing pool side! 
We have the best time together! 
This one cashed out again! 
So we headed back to put the boys down. We had an adjoining room with Mal & Bob, so as the boys slept, we all chatted some more next door. And then we had to say our goodbyes. Tyler and Laura had to leave very early the next morning. We were so thankful that they were able to join us for this trip. They helped make incredible memories for the boys that they will never forget! Early the next morning my Mom & Dad stopped by to say goodbye before they headed to the airport as well. It was so sad to say goodbye, but we felt so blessed to have been able to take this trip all together.