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Old 12-24-2013, 01:14 PM   #1
pixleyyy
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GOING BACK TO THE BEGINNING – Over-Planner and Picture-Crazy – Oct/Nov 2014

WAHOO! That's how I feel each time I'm on the Disboards now. No more sad Disney blues because I can't go. We've got a plan, we've got hotel reservations and we are ready to go! Now it's just planning and waiting for the day to finally arrive. Dates are 10/25-11/8/2013, for those of you who are interested in the date. More details on all the plans coming up.

Just to explain the title, we're heading back to WDW almost exactly 13 years to the day from the first family trip we ever took. Back then the kids were 5, 3 and 9 months old and we went because airfare was super cheap (it was shortly after 9/11) and my mother gave us an airline voucher that covered the airline tickets. We stayed offsite at $59/night, did no research, had very little money and still had an amazing time.

This trip they'll be 18, 16 and 13. We're looking forward to celebrating a lot while were there. DS#1 will have just turned 18. DH and I will have just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary and we'll both be turning 40 earlier that year. It's also our pre-celebration for Chase's graduation. And on a sad note, it will be our last big family vacation before Chase heads off to college and full family vacations become complicated.

MY APOLOGIES: WILL HAVE TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO DOWNSIZE THE PHOTOS WHEN USING PHOTOBUCKET.

On to the cast of characters:
Me: Annette - 39. Named after Annette Funicello, I was destined to LOVE Disney from birth. My parents took us to Disneyland once when I was really little. Here I am meeting Mickey for the first time:

We also went to Disneyworld twice, once when I was about 12 and again when I was 17.

I daylight as a Marketing Specialist for a local credit union and own a small photography business, which helps cover the cost of photography equipment and Disney trips! LOL I'm a big reader and also LOVE scrapbooking. For many years I was published in scrapbook magazines, with almost 100 pages published, but after 10 years of paper scrapbooking I decided to give up the paper and go digital. I haven't looked back! My favorite characters are Mickey and Figment, whom I've loved since my early Disneyworld visits.

DH: Brian 39. Went to Disneyland once as a child but was little so doesn't remember much. I threw him in head first when we decided on Disneyland for our honeymoon almost 20 years ago. See how young we were!


And here we are now. Still in love, still think he's pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. He's in law enforcement and loves to tinker with his old Ford truck. He's learning to play the harmonica, just cause he wants to. He's a big TV and movie fan too.
THE KIDS



DS#1: Chase.

17 now, will be 18 when we go. He's loved Disney since he was little. One of my fave childhood memories of him is his Buzz Lightyear pajamas. Hed wear them and run around the house pretending to talk into his arm communicator and hitting the little laser button and going pew, pew to shoot the laser.

Hes a HUGE Disney fan and knows more than I do on the history of the parks and especially about Walt.

When we went to Disneyworld for the first time all those years ago we arrived in Florida and he just kept saying "I can't believe we're here... I can't believe we're finally at Disneyworld!". He had just turned 5 and was already hooked!

He and I both devour Disney books (well, any books but we particularly love Disney ones). Since he was little he's wanted to be an Imagineer and he's planning on attending college to study Engineering, either electrical or computer. He's a self-professed nerd - super bright, school comes easy to him and he really loves learning. He loves acting in school plays and volunteers to tutor kids in math just because he loves it. He's also an Eagle Scout. Super proud Mom here! He likes to run Cross Country

and has been doing Taekwondo for 4 years. He's hoping to earn his black belt late next year, so maybe we'll have that to celebrate when we go too.

DS#2: Tristan

As much as Chase is my mini-me, Tristan is Brian's. These two guys are so alike! Tristan is 15 (will turn 16 shortly before the trip) and is tall like his Daddy. Hes currently 6'2" and still growing like a weed. Poor Chase got passed up in height when he was 12 and Tristan was 10. So for pictures, tall brother = little brother.

Tristan is such a sweet guy! He absolutely LOVED Stitch when he was a kid. We must have watched Lilo & Stitch twice a week for a year, which helped with the name of one of our pets (oh, you'll meet them in a minute). He loves the roller coasters and thrill rides and is usually the first to put his hands up on a coaster and giggle at all the fun hes having. Just the thought of his continuous, giggly laughter on Big Thunder makes me smile.

Tristan likes sports and also runs cross country with his brother.

Since he was 9 he's been taking Taekwondo and just a few weeks ago he earned his black belt! So proud of him and his dedication to the sport. He is excited to continue and earn his next dan (and maybe even 3rd dan) before he graduates and heads off to college. In this picture he's just earned his black belt and is holding a picture of himself at his first ever belt testing when he was 9.

He is a life scout, with only 2 merit badges and his eagle project to complete before reaching Eagle. I hope maybe we'll be celebrating that accomplishment of his prior to our trip next year also.

I do have to mention that the boys are quite the pair and even now still think of each other as one of their best friends. You'll see them hanging out with each other a lot.

DD: Carissa

Ah yes, the little princess. 12 years old, will be 13 when we go. Not only is she the only girl (and the only granddaughter too: 5 boys and 1 girl), but she's also the baby of our family. I absolutely love doing all the girly stuff with her! Don't fear though, she's also wild and adventurous.

She was so small when we went the first trip, but by the second and third trips she was the perfect princess age. She wore a princess dress every day of those trips and it was an adorable site to see. One of her favorite Disney moments she will tell you to this day: on her 7th birthday we were in Disneyworld on vacation and took her to an early princess makeover at the BBB. We were done before the park opened and we walked over to the rope at Tomorrowland to wait for park open. The CM's saw her all dressed up with her Birthday Princess sash and asked what she wanted to ride. In her little 7 year old voice she said Space Mountain!. The CM's then picked up the rope and let our family through, then had Carissa lead the way through the empty Tomorrowland to Space Mountain, where she was first to get on the ride for the day. It was such a sweet moment and just solidifies the magic of Disney for us. Something so little, yet so meaningful. She called it her best day ever.

Now Miss Riss (or Rissa or Missy or one of the other nicknames you may see here) LOVES horses. Unfortunately we don't have the time in our daily lives to properly care for one on our own, but for 4 years she's taken riding lessons that she absolutely loves.

She plays basketball on her middle school team and runs/throws in track. She has taken 4 years of Taekwondo also, and is looking at testing for her black belt in a year or two.

She loves friends, loves to read and likes helping me bake things. She loves to antagonize Tristan (and he loves to antagonize her). She also loves cuddles and hugs and kisses. She will be our biggest complainer (my feet hurt, I'm tired, I'm hungry, I have to go to the bathroom...). Despite it all, we adore this little girl!

More coming soon, including:
Our Disney Pets
Our Previous Trips
And all the planning for this upcoming trip!

Last edited by pixleyyy; 05-29-2014 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 12-26-2013, 12:16 PM   #2
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Index

Cast of Characters
Our Disney Pets
Under 300! And our travel plans.
Our Year of Celebration (AKA: Tattoo!)

Coming soon:
Our Disney History

Last edited by pixleyyy; 01-24-2014 at 11:40 PM.
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Old 12-26-2013, 12:18 PM   #3
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Following along.
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For the love of Disney...
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Old 12-26-2013, 01:35 PM   #4
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Following along.
So glad to have you! My first follower this time around!
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Old 12-26-2013, 10:16 PM   #5
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Hey Annette! I'm subscribing! Thanks for subscribing to my PTR also. Looks like we are in pretty similar situations with teenagers and haven't been to WDW in a long time. I'm looking forward to following along with your planning! (I'm a planning fanatic also.)
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1200 pics, 1100 miles, 15 deluxe dining meals, 7 days, 6 nights, 1 great time at POR May 29-June 5, 2014 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3289594

Past trip reports:
Team Renfroe's 2nd Trip Report, May 15-22, 2009 - 1500 pictures, dining reviews and DISmeets! - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2187084
Pre-Trip Report for May, 2009 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1884986
First trip report with TONS of pics - May, 2008 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1841491
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:19 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by alan_renfroe View Post
Hey Annette! I'm subscribing! Thanks for subscribing to my PTR also. Looks like we are in pretty similar situations with teenagers and haven't been to WDW in a long time. I'm looking forward to following along with your planning! (I'm a planning fanatic also.)
Thanks for subbing! I'll be watching your PTR for lots of tips, since you're going first. JEALOUS!
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Old 12-26-2013, 01:34 PM   #7
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I promised to share some of our pets. In our house, pets are a big deal. We love them, we have them, we cuddle them and we always name them after Disney characters. At one point we had a total of 9, but at this point all the little rodents (pet rats and guinea pigs) have passed away, but we still have 5 pets left.

TUCK

Named after the Disney movie "Tuck Everlasting", he's a purebred chocolate lab that we rescued 10 years ago. He's now 11 and our our old man dog, I'm not sure how long he'll still be with us. He has some medical issues that are slowly getting worse. We plan on making his life comfortable until we decide it's too much. I'm guessing that will be in the next year.

JACK JACK

Obviously his name was inspired by "The Incredibles", but we often refer to him as just Jack. Another rescue, he's a purebred American Eskimo that went through 3 other homes before finally making his was to us at about a year old. We've had him about 7 years now, so he's roughly 8 years old. He LOVES to take walks or go on runs with the boys. He's Chase's best buddy and sleeps next to his bed at night (or on the bed with me when Brian is working nights). He's fiercely protective of us all and a great watchdog. Tuck may look tough, but Jack Jack is the one you really have to watch out for.

VIOLET

Another "Incredibles" inspired name, Voilet is a sweet kitty. She's 8 years old too and friendly. She likes to sit in your lap or lay on your chest when you're in bed. She's got these beautiful blue eyes, but they're slightly crossed and bouncy. She loves everyone.

ALICE

Alice has always been this beautiful, shiny haired silvery kitty, so a sweet, beautiful name was perfect for her. I always wanted a gray kitty and finally got one, but things don't always turn out how you want. She was my sweet baby and loved to purr and cuddle as a little kitten, but she hit the teenage years and became grumpy and moody and quite the loner. She's 2 now and is just finally starting to actually *want* to be petted. She comes up on our laps and stands there for some pets now, so I'm hopeful they teenage years are gone and she'll turn into a sweet kitty when she finally grows up a little.

PUDGE

Now here's the one I referenced above and there's quite the story. We knew Tuck was getting on in age and starting to slow down, so I had a discussion with Brian about maybe going down to one dog and staying that way. He's always been a multiple-dog kind of person but with the kids growing up, me going to full time (I'd been a stay-at-hom-mom for 16 years then part-time for 1 before I went full), our busy schedules, etc, it was just not as easy to have the time to really dedicate to the dogs like we'd like. Brian's answer to that was to get a cat of his own and he wanted a big one, so looked for a Maine Coon. This little girl is a Maine Coon mix that he found as a kitten through a rescue agency. I didn't want her at all. He did. Since it was his cat, he won and we brought her home. She went through a plethora of names - we started with Vanellope (Nella) but changed it to Cleo. As she grew (and grew!) we noticed that she wasn't looking so Cleo-like and that she really, really loved food (sometimes she would fall asleep in front of the food bowl, then wake up, take a bit and go back to sleep). One day Tristan said in passing "Pudge controls the weather", which is a line from Lilo & Stitch (Pudge is the fish that Lilo feeds). Well that was it... the new name. So now she's Pudge and she's huge: 12 1/2 pounds right now and not even a year old. I purposefully didn't bond with her as a kitten, as she was Brian's cat, but she latched on to me just the same. Now she is my "little" kitty... she comes and climbs on me and wants to be held in my arms while she sleeps. I've become very good at one-handed typing and scrapbooking while I hold her at nights. She's so warm and cuddly that I really don't mind.

So there they are... our Disney pets and the rest of our household.
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Old 12-30-2013, 10:48 PM   #8
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Under 300! And, our plans.

Just had to do a little when I logged into MDE today and saw this:

Yep, it says 299 days. And even though it seems an immensely long time to wait, it also is less than the 300's I was seeing up until now. So minor victory in the numbers department.

Since I gave a little sneak peek away here, I guess I should finally spill the beans about our plans. Here's the big bit for us... we're staying 2 full weeks! We've never had the chance to spend more than 8 days in Disney and we've always wanted to stay longer. This will give us a chance to take in all we can of Disney, some of the extras we've never taken time for (waterparks and DisneyQuest especially), see things offsite (Harry Potter!) and just take more time to relax and enjoy this last big family vacation.

Now, on to the details:

We check in 10/25 at All-Star Music in a Family Suite. We're super excited about the room, as it's got enough space for us to stretch out and for each kid to have their own bed. Oh, and 2 bathrooms. That was a deal breaker for us. Well, that and price. We were limited somewhat with a family of 5 trying for an affordable but comfortable Disney hotel.

We debated on whether to book the room now or wait for a good deal, but we knew that this was the room we wanted when we stayed onsite so we just went for it. I hope that doesn't eliminate us from getting a PIN or special deal in the future, but it's worth it to get the room we wanted.

We are staying onsite for 1 week and will be hitting the parks commando-style for the first few days. We'll slow down a little around day 4 or 5, when the family starts getting tired and by the time day 7 rolls around we'll be ready for a slow day to move rooms and spend some time at Blizzard Beach.

Week 2 will be spent offsite in the Marriott Grande Vista. This is a BEAUTIFUL timeshare that we courtesy of my Mom's ex-husband (that's a long story), who let us use it for just the cost of the transfer fee. Super cheap and absolutely wonderful accommodations. We stayed here in 2008 and loved it. We've got a master suite with king bed and Jacuzzi, 2nd bedroom with queen bed and sleeper sofa and front room with sleeper sofa. 2 bathrooms, kitchen and laundry facilities round it all out. Oh, and to top it all off there is a wonderful outdoor, screened area where we love to have breakfast or relax in the evenings. It will be the perfect place to slow down and enjoy the last half of our vacation.

We still have lots to think about in terms of which parks to go to, which airline to fly (I'm guessing we'll end up on Southwest because of the fare, but I don't love not having seat assignments), where to rent a car for the second week, whether we'll get a room discount or if free dining will be offered, where we want to eat, etc. So many plans and so many days. Can't wait!!!

Last edited by pixleyyy; 12-30-2013 at 11:08 PM.
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:14 AM   #9
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I did this little tally for a thread on the resorts board and it gave me a little . I know I'd added it up before but wow. Hoping for a room or free dining discount to help out with it all.

Anyways, here's the breakdown:
10/25-11/8/14
2 weeks
Family of 5 (all Disney adults)

7 nights in ASMu family suite with 10 day base tickets: $3663.20 (hoping for discount at some point)
7 nights in Mariott Grande Vista timeshare, mostly gifted to us: $300
Ticket upgrade to include Waterparks & More @ $62.84/ticket (or $84.14/ticket if we decide we want hoppers): $314.20
Universal one day, one park passes @$95.45/ticket (through UT): $477.25
Airfare from PDX to MCO @ ~$200pp each way: $2000
Rental van/suv for week of timeshare: $300
Parking at Disney for 5 days during week of timeshare: $75
Memory Maker - prepurchase online: $149

$7278.65
Plus Food & Souveniors
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Old 01-02-2014, 07:22 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by pixleyyy View Post
I did this little tally for a thread on the resorts board and it gave me a little . I know I'd added it up before but wow. Hoping for a room or free dining discount to help out with it all.

Anyways, here's the breakdown:
10/25-11/8/14
2 weeks
Family of 5 (all Disney adults)

7 nights in ASMu family suite with 10 day base tickets: $3663.20 (hoping for discount at some point)
7 nights in Mariott Grande Vista timeshare, mostly gifted to us: $300
Ticket upgrade to include Waterparks & More @ $62.84/ticket (or $84.14/ticket if we decide we want hoppers): $314.20
Universal one day, one park passes @$95.45/ticket (through UT): $477.25
Airfare from PDX to MCO @ ~$200pp each way: $2000
Rental van/suv for week of timeshare: $300
Parking at Disney for 5 days during week of timeshare: $75
Memory Maker - prepurchase online: $149

$7278.65
Plus Food & Souveniors
Hi Annette! Happy New Year! Your two weeks look amazing! Hopefully you'll get free dining during your period of time....that would be nice!
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1200 pics, 1100 miles, 15 deluxe dining meals, 7 days, 6 nights, 1 great time at POR May 29-June 5, 2014 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3289594

Past trip reports:
Team Renfroe's 2nd Trip Report, May 15-22, 2009 - 1500 pictures, dining reviews and DISmeets! - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2187084
Pre-Trip Report for May, 2009 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1884986
First trip report with TONS of pics - May, 2008 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1841491
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Old 01-03-2014, 03:12 PM   #11
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following along.
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Old 01-03-2014, 09:33 PM   #12
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following along.
Glad to have you Lisa! Totally jealous you live in Georgia and that you're soooooo much closer to Disneyworld then we are.
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Old 02-20-2014, 05:18 PM   #13
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I know I haven't been on here in a while but wanted to throw a little life update your way, mainly as it applies to our trip.

We paid cash for our last two big vacation (Disneyland 2012 and 3,900 mile family road trip July 2013) and we really feel it's important to pay for this trip with cash, so we've been working hard on saving money for it. Overtime? Put most of it in the Disney account. Photography sessions? Put proceeds in the Disney account. Stuff around the house we don't need? Sell it and put it in the Disney account. We've been doing a fairly good job and we know it's going to be tight but we'll make it to our goal before the trip.

The last few weeks, however, have not been kind to us. We made a critical parenting error and let our 17yo drive himself into Portland one day for his engineering mentorship meeting. He was unprepared for the merging traffic on and off the freeway and got into a fender bender. Thankfully it wasn't a huge accident and we won't have to report it to insurance but it did mean that we had to fork over several hundred dollars for new parts. Lesson learned, he's not ready for the big city yet (we live in a rural area 30 minutes from Portland) and needs more parent-monitored city driving before he goes solo again. Oh, and since all the saving money goes into the Disney account we had to take it out of the Disney account.

We also learned that you lose the ability to claim your children once they are 17. We didn't know this so when we got our taxes done (which usually amounts to a $2000+ tax return) and saw the figure we went . Now not only do we not get anything back, we actually get to pay more.

So I'm feeling a little like it's one step forward, two steps back. I'm hoping the photography will pick up once spring hits. I'm hoping we'll get some good overtime through DH's job. And I'm hoping DS will get a job sometime soon (he's been looking but it's tough here for kids) so he can start paying a portion of the car insurance and gas each month and we can put those in savings too.
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Old 05-29-2014, 11:25 AM   #14
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I am a bad PTR'er! I can't believe I haven't been here for over 3 months! Life has been chaotic and crazy so let me catch you up.

DS17 has 10 more days left of school and then he will be a senior! It really just dawned on us that a year from now he will be graduating. He took his SAT and ACT and got amazing scores. He's got a good GPA and took the tough classes. He's really a great college candidate, but he really doesn't know where he wants to go. We've already visited the in-state colleges so in 3 weeks DH, DS17 and myself will be heading on a road trip (the other two get to spend it with the grandparents). 5 days, 5 states, 6 colleges and 2,000 miles. It's going to be a whirlwind trip, but he really needs the experience of visiting different schools before he makes any decisions. And since we live in the northwest, a lot of schools he is looking at really aren't that close. Thus the road trip. Looking forward to it!

I had some success at work and our marketing department (which is really just 2 of us) won a big northwestern marketing award. So excited for that and for the recent raise I received. It certainly helps with saving for this trip (though the above road trip has the opposite affect).

Sunday is my birthday... the big 4-0. Hubby is getting me what I requested: a fitbit. Excited to start using it and hope that it encourages me to walk and sleep more. I'm not great at both, though we have been making an effort to walk 5-8 miles per week, usually 2-3 miles at a time. Trying to get prepared for all that Disney walking!

In sad news, we lost our dog, Tuck, about a month ago. His old age and tumors finally got the best of him and we decided to let him go. It was tough.

In trip news, we have scheduled (and paid cash for!) flights to and from Disney. We're flying Southwest, which I don't like because of the cattle-call boarding, but who offered the best price by far. Thankfully the kids are older now so if they have to sit separate from us I know they'll do fine.

We got free dining added to our reservation. We had really hoped for free dining at POR, but since it was excluded we stayed with our ASMu family suite. Excited about the size of the room, as it's perfect for our family. Not so excited about quick serve dining, but we opted to save the $100/day it would cost us to upgrade and instead pay for a few table service meals OOP. We have to do a split stay as FD doesn't start until our second night. We have a room-only the first night and then 6 days with free dining. That means we get 2 sets of magic bands each, which means more fun I get to have decorating them.

Still trying to decide whether to rent a car for the entire trip. DH is leaning that way but I think part of the decision will be based on the price of a rental car for 2 weeks. We have to have one for the second week, since we're offsite, but the first week is optional.

We found a group-buy for Universal tickets so are getting those at a good cost.

Now just counting down the days until I can make FP+. In spectacular timing, our 60 days will start while we're on our one and only camping trip of the summer! The good news is that we can still manage it, as DH can bring his ipad and we'll add the wireless hotspot onto his phone. Yeah! The bad news is that I may have to be up at the butt crack of dawn to make them, depending on what time they open eastern time. Guess I should look into that.

OK, that's all I can think of as an update for now. Thanks for sticking with me.

Last edited by pixleyyy; 05-29-2014 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:39 PM   #15
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Starting our year of celebration!

2014 is officially our "year of celebration". I know I've mentioned all we're celebrating already, but here's a little unexpected celebration. After nearly a year of talking it over, thinking on the design and continuing to be sure he's committed to the idea, DH finally bit the bullet and started his first Disney tattoo! Not only did he get it started, but he decided to go big with his first sleeve. He sat for 4 1/2 hours on Wednesday and goes back for another 4 or 5 hours next month. I'm guessing he'll need a total of three 4-5 hour sessions to get this finished. Take a look at what he's got so far:



Here's the deal: Sally will go along Jack's side (you can see the stencil outline on the bottom picture). Jack is sitting in a chair with his leg crossed at the knee. Below them will be Lock, Shock and Barrel, possibly sitting on pumpkins, possibly standing (they are the last items so it's still up in the air). Oogie boggie is a shadow up in the moon and bats will be flying out of his mouth. The mountain will have a lot of wispy texture to it, to cover up the 20-year old Taz tattoo DH was ready to cover up.

So there you go... the start to our celebration for the year. Let the fun begin!
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