The Epic Beauchamp Family Disney Vacation

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Posted by Candy | Posted in summer fun | Posted on 05-08-2012

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Disney 2012Finally getting around to sorting through all the photos from our Disney vacation. In June, we loaded up the van, hit the road and spent 8 days in Florida and then drove up for a very quick visit with my family in Charleston, SC. I set up everyone’s phone to automatically upload photos to a dropbox and bought the somewhat overpriced Disney Photopass and took a lot of photos. There’s nearly 600 of them and you can see them on my Flickr page. Enjoy. I’ll share a few of my faves below…

It was QUITE the vacation. I’m SO glad we went through a Disney travel agent. She was free and she was available to me via text or phone. She went through things with me, answered my 900 questions and helped with the general planning. Even better, she watched out for discounts and ended up saving us around $500 by rebooking our vacation when the prices came down. It was pretty awesome. So I will give a huge shout out to Amanda. Email her if you’re planning a trip. I wouldn’t have been able to do this and not worry hardly at all without her. Her email is amandag@mei-travel.com. Trust me.

Disney 2012 Mobile PhotosOne of our favorite things was the Ohana character breakfast. Both of my kids are huge Stitch fans (especially Cassie). Getting to meet Stitch was truly a highlight. The food was wonderful and the kids were made to feel like royalty. Tom and I were able to relax, enjoy. I do wish they had more time with the characters. There was just enough time for them to walk by, pose for a photo and autograph for us. Not bad, but it did feel rushed at times. We did the photo package there as well and Cassie, of course, brought her stuffed Stitch (which she also carried all over the parks). They were so cute and made sure her stuffy got a lei along with the rest of us. That huge smile says it all!

Our favorite ride was the Peter Pan ride as a family. They did an amazing job with it. Really, all of the rides are total events. We also really enjoyed Soarin’ (which we did twice). I’m glad we did 8 days. We were able to do Magic Kingdom and Epcot for two days each and took a day off for a Water Park.

The really bad part was the quick service food. It left a lot to be desired. Very fast-food type and really not all that good, with a few exceptions. We had table service for dinners and that was much better and the food was really good quality. I had an amazing soup at Marrakesh, a Moroccan place in Epcot, but the rest of my party said that it was pretty bland, otherwise. We absolutely loved T-Rex in Downtown Disney, the food was really great and the atmosphere was amazing. We ate in the ice cave and it was really awesome. I have several food allergies and each time, one of the chefs came out to talk to me about them and made sure that what I ate was safe for me.

Disney 2012One of the things that Disney excels at is their set up for kids with ADHD and anxiety disorders. Jamie has a really tough time in crowds and we knew this vacation was going to be a challenge. I knew they would make accommodations, but I was floored by how far out of their way they will go to make sure the kids have a great time. We did several things right (and a few things wrong), but overall, it was amazing. I was expecting them to just save our place in the massive lines and put us somewhere quieter but… We brought a doctor’s note and they gave us a pass that allowed us to basically walk to the fast pass lines. It meant we didn’t have to get a fast pass and then try to get him back through the crowd again just so he could go on a ride. It really didn’t save us much time over anyone else being there because we also found we had to get him out of the park at least once per day and back to the hotel. The buses take a while so it was a good chance for him to decompress. We found the lunch food at the hotel to be tolerable, so we would eat there, go cool off in the room and then head back to the park in the late afternoon. We only had a few major freak outs with him (one was towards the end of the big fireworks in Magic Kingdom. I really wish I had asked about a quieter place for him because I think that ruined that experience for him a bit).

Disney 2012 Mobile PhotosMy biggest piece of advice for people heading to Disney is to come with a plan, but be prepared to toss it completely out of the window if needed. We tried to stick to our Touring Plan, but ended up ditching it except for the list of rides we wanted to try to hit. We just weren’t able to stick to a timetable with the other challenges we had. Also, bring blister bandages. My sister ended up with huge blisters¬† and I wish we had them in hand instead of having to go out searching for some the second evening.

There are also a lot of hotels. If we go back, and I hit the lottery, I would probably want to stay somewhere on the tram line. We opted to stay in a family suite at a value resort which was phenomenal though. We had a bedroom, a living area, a small kitchen and TWO BATHROOMS. With five people, it made it so much easier to get everyone showered and in bed at night.

Tom really wants to go back… like now. While I had a truly amazing time, it’s really expensive. We did the Disney meal plan and while I was reluctant about it at first, I’m glad we did. We didn’t think about food or cost or anything like that, we just did whatever we wanted. We ended up with plenty of leftover snack credits at the end of the trip and bought a bunch of Mickey ear rice crispy treats. The whole trip was just crazy expensive. Plus, I’ll be honest… eight days of the mouse and the happy happy joy joy will make just about anyone insane. Add that to the kids being afraid of certain rides and everyone getting hot and crabby and well… he’s been outvoted in favor of a relaxing beach vacation next year! *laughing*

Disney 2012Seriously… it’s the vacation everyone has to take. My kids were 9 and 11 and it really was the perfect age. Oh! That reminds me, careful if you do do the meal plan. Cassie was 9 so she would have had to eat from the children’s menu if we hadn’t have made sure to tell our planner to tell them she was 10. She doesn’t eat “kid menu” food so it was nice for her to also just eat anything she wanted. The portions are HUGE though, so we shared most of the time. We also found that you might want to order one vegetarian meal so that you got some good veggies for the table as well.

The crowds were light in some parks and heavy in others when we were there, although half of the US wasn’t even out of school yet. That whole “just go with it” is super important here. Taking that day off for a beach park day was also perfect. We did the park hopper and while we could have done without it, it was nice to be able to run into another park to check out a show or something if we wanted. We caught almost all of the nighttime light/firework shows and I’m really glad that we did. They were really awesome.

That’s it… we did end up riding most of the rides, we didn’t miss much and we’ll probably go back in a few years… but next year… lazy beach vacation :)

2011 Summer Reading Programs for Kids

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Posted by Candy | Posted in School, summer fun | Posted on 25-05-2011

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It’s that time again! As many of you know, my entire family are all big readers, my kids included. We always – always! – do the Summer Reading Programs and my kids LOVE it!

Here’s a rundown of what I’ve found so far (feel free to let me know of others!)

1. Barnes & Noble – read 8 books and a get free book from their list

2. Borders – reading 10 books and get a free book from their selection in store

3. Half Price Books – Read 15 minutes per day (600 total in June and July) and get $5 gift certificate (I was hoping they were doing the weekly thing this year – that was great to go each week – and we always spent way more than the $5 LOL)

4. HEB – Read 10 books and get some prizes (a t-shirt and maybe some other stuff?)

5. Austin Library – Set a personal goal, read that many books and turn it in to get a free book from their selection

Bertram Oatmeal Festival 2009

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Posted by Candy | Posted in summer fun | Posted on 09-10-2009

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2009 Bertram Oatmeal Festival 5My good friend, Julie, lives out in “BFE” – and they have a yearly Oatmeal Festival there in early September (yes, I realize I’m behind on photo sharing and blogging. What else is new). I love small town festivals. I know that makes me weird, especially because I don’t like living in small towns (although I do believe that Austin is the biggest small town in the US, everyone seems to know everyone else around here or at least someone that knows someone you know). ANYWAY… my other good friend, Ellen, and I took pity on our husbands and drug ourselves out there and let the husbands have a play date.

It was SO much fun. We made it just in time for the pet parade (which is what the kids were looking forward to the most), where our friends were showing off their prize winning chicken (it had the most spots). Then the real parade and then we went over for lunch and carnival activities. That part was a little small and underwhelming, but it was still a lot of fun (and the kids didn’t notice, I just hate carnival games) ;)

The best part according to Jamie was being with his friends and Cassie said it was getting rained on by oatmeal (a little crop plane flies around and dumps oatmeal on you. Heh)

I definitely think we’ll be going back next year! Here’s some photos to share – you can always see more by visiting my flickr (badge on the right). The lighting was great out there that morning… I, on the other hand, am an idiot and forgot to charge the camera so we ran out of juice just before Mr. Oatmeal came! Darn it!

2009 Bertram Oatmeal Festival 1

2009 Bertram Oatmeal Festival 8

2009 Bertram Oatmeal Festival 6

2009 Bertram Oatmeal Festival 3

School starts tomorrow and other randomness

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Posted by Candy | Posted in pets, School, summer fun | Posted on 24-08-2009

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The teacher walk was Thursday. Our school is so freaking cute. The teachers come and knock on your door and that’s how you find out who you have. (Yes, you could look 2 hours earlier when they post them at the school, but the anticipation is fun). We are happy with both kid’s teachers, of course (thankfully). Cassie will be absolutely fine. I just hope Jamie’s teacher is able to be stern enough with him. She’s really really really nice. Hopefully it’s a facade and she can turn into super-bitch-teacher-from-hell and keep Jamie in line.

This morning, we picked up supplies from the cafeteria (we always buy them from the school) and took them to their classrooms where they got to see where their room is and where they will be sitting. They are excited and ready to go back… I just took a quick pic of them, see how happy?

Kids Day Before School 2009

In other news… Tom got a new grill. He wanted a searing-something-or-other and his old grill, one of the burners went out and whatever, so…

Tom and New Grill

Cassie and 2 of her friends had a sleepover a couple of weeks back because one friend started school early (alternative school), so they had one last hurrah..

Girls Sleepover

Leo thought the popcorn kernals they left all over the floor might be edible so made a rare appearance.

Leo

Speaking of the dog, he is driving us all crazy. He barks when anyone walks by the kid’s rooms and doesn’t stop for a while. He runs away from Tom and I (although not as badly now). He’s driving us CRAZY.

And he is stupid. No really, he is, in the words of my friend Elaine, as dumb as a box of rocks. He’s been with us for what? 2 months? He STILL hasn’t figure out how to use the dog door, so Julie will go out and he’ll stand there. I’ll get up to open the door for him and he run away barking and won’t come back until I close the door again. Tom has to get the kids to catch him so we can take him outside (which he likes).

Moronic dog.

The neighbors think we are crazy…

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Posted by Candy | Posted in summer fun | Posted on 30-07-2009

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Every Summer we do something that makes our neighbors think we are crazy. I just know they have to think we are insane…

This year we bought a new water slide. With 2.5 slides. The lady behind us gets extra water for her lawn (err.. or maybe mud), our neighbors send their kids to wear themselves out. For the record, the old slide lasted 2 years and was used a LOT, so I figure we got our money’s worth. I also don’t like to use a lot of camps or daycares so I figure I’d be spending the money there if not for something to keep them busy while I work. That’s my own little way to make it “okay” in my head. LOL… so here ya go…

Yes, it’s huge.
Slide blown up for first time

Cassie INSISTED that she be the first to come down the slide.
Cassie comes down slide

But Jamie wasn’t too far behind!
Jamie comes down slide

Visit to Rockport Aquarium

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Posted by Candy | Posted in summer fun | Posted on 26-07-2009

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While we were on vacation last month, we visited the Rockport Aquarium. Yes, that little town has it’s own aquarium. It only had a few tanks, but it was worth stopping in (it’s free and the volunteers there were SO nice). I only got one picture that was worth keeping, but that’s okay, we had a great time!

Kids at Rockport Aquarium

Marie and Cassie fooling around

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Posted by Candy | Posted in summer fun | Posted on 25-07-2009

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Marie and Cassie wanted to make faces at the camera. I, of course, obliged. They had a great time and it was a great way to blow off some steam after a hectic vacation day!

Silly Kids 4

Silly Kids 3

Silly Kids 2

Silly Kids 1

Shell Beach photos from Key Allegro

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Posted by Candy | Posted in summer fun | Posted on 25-07-2009

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We had a short little walk from where we were staying on vacation last month to “shell beach”. I don’t know that I’d actually go swimming there as the waves break pretty hard, but it seemed to be where all the shells dumped on to. It was a great place to take the kids after dinner… we went several times actually…

I snapped a few photos, of course…

Jamie didn’t pick up just any shell, he had to analyze which one he wanted and why.
Jamie on Shell Beach

Cassie, on the other hand, grabbed any shell that got her fancy. We later went through them and made her narrow down her choices. No need to take ALL the shells from the beach, other families will want some too. (hey, whatever works, she’s 6)
Cassie getting shells at shell beach

The had a great time!
Kids on shell beach

Cassie on wall at shell beach key allegro

Marie at shell beach

Pool photos from vacation

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Posted by Candy | Posted in Extended Family, summer fun | Posted on 25-07-2009

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Just a few more of the pool… I’m behind, as always, in going through photos. Trying to get better about that ;)

This is my nephew… He looks pretty serious about that water cannon!
Jack with Water Cannon

Cassie just hanging out…
Cassie Hanging Out

Tom and his sister doing the sibling thing… I had to get the kids out of the way… Tom is brutal with a pool noodle!
Tom and Jeannine at pool

Another beach visit… tough life, but someone had to do it!

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Posted by Candy | Posted in summer fun | Posted on 23-06-2009

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I found some more photos from the vacation… this is a visit to the beach we made with Tom’s sister, her 2 kids and his mother.

There were tons of marine hermit crabs. The kids wanted to bring them home because we have land hermit crabs, but I had to explain that they really aren’t the same thing (and even if they were, um… no). Anyway, they collected 9 or so and then we released them before we left. We had to play with this little guy quite a bit to get him to stick his head out…

Marie and Beach Hermit Crab

Jamie was busy being a bit of beach bum. He’s also going through a little emo-esque phase. You’ll see we managed to not only find a black swim shirt, but it has a hoodie. SCORE!

Jamie at Rockport beach - Hang Ten Man!

Jamie at Rockport beach - rock and roll dude!

Marie loved the beach and would have gone every single day if we had let her!

Marie at Rockport Beach

Cassie was just a cheese-girl!

Cassie being extra cheesy at Rockport beach

My sister-in-law and her youngest…

J and O

… and her oldest…

Jack