Desperately Driving from WI to WDW(2/20-3/2 PTR) DH Lost His Job, We're Going Anyway!

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by StefaniLyn, Jan 30, 2014.

  1. StefaniLyn

    StefaniLyn DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    We leave in 22 days! Oh my! Twenty Two Days! 22! Deux Deux! No matter how I say it, 22 days will fly by before we know it and I still have tons of planning to do. Help!!

    With our departure date right around the corner, I'll get right down to the nitty gritty and introduce our Cast of Characters before giving you a bit of history.

    This is my family. [​IMG]

    Top left there, that would be me (Mom, Stephanie, 36) - I am a stay at home mother of 3 girls. I enjoy scrapbooking, dabble in photography, and dedicating myself to my kids and their activities. And Disney....oh boy do I Looooooove Disney!

    Top right is my DH, Ben (35). He's pretty much the best dad ever and in his spare time he manages a large retail store. He also coaches soccer and one day hopes to win big at the World Series of Poker.

    Front and center, that would be DD14 also known as AJ (short for Adrianna Jadyn). She's not shy. She's a freshman in high school and enjoys soccer, golf, gymnastics and is a great student. So great, that when punishment is necessary, we take away her books. She's growing up too fast, but still loves Disney!
    [​IMG]

    Off to the front right you will find Kennedy, DD12. A complete opposite of her sister, Kennedy enjoys working with power tools and building cars. No Joke! Her favorite pasttimes are welding and driving on a real racetrack. Kennedy's favorite character is Tinkerbell, and they often share personality traits.
    [​IMG]

    And rounding out the gang there on the bottom left is Bella, DD9. She's a miracle wrapped up in cuteness and topped off with personality plus. Her story is a lengthy one which I will reserve for later, but I will tell you she is a self proclaimed real life princess whose love for Disney rivals my own.
    [​IMG]

    This will be our 6th trip to the world and our Distory includes the following visits:
    January 2007- Polynesian - 10 days - Grandpa's spoiling the grandkids trip which begun our Disney obsession.
    September 2008 - Caribbean Beach - 7 days - Fun in the Sun at CBR
    December 2009 - Give Kids the World Village - 10 days = Bella's Make A Wish Trip
    January 2012 - All Star Movies - 5 days?
    October 2012 - All Star Sports - 4 days
    February 2014 - All Star Sports and off property (gasp!) 7 days


    Let me be completely honest here.....I have let people down before. Strangers, friends, dedicated readers. Maybe even you. And definitely me. I'm sorry.

    The last time I posted on the DISboards was in 2010.

    My hiatus wasn't due to a rude comment or inappropriate action of a DIS-er, I wasn't put off by a policy change on the Boards, nor did I ever waiver in my devout love of all things Disney. I was pouting. For 3 years. Yea, I know.... :sad2:

    I started with a fabulous Wish Trip pretrip report and promised readers an equally if not exceedingly fabulous trip report would follow upon our return from the World. But I let them down.

    I had the best of intentions - thousands of pictures, handwritten notes about each day of the trip, and videos to refresh my memory while I wrote an exceptionally detailed trip report. But my flashdrive had other plans. After posting about several fabulous days of our trip, I returned to my monitor one day only to find one of my two flashdrives containing nearly 1500 pictures on each, was completely empty. I don't know how, or why, but it was inexplicably erased and not even the cleverest of computer experts could recover the pictures from my daughter's Make A Wish trip. Left with just a handful of pictures from the second half of my trip, my heart just wasn't in it and I stopped writing the trip report.

    One of my biggest regrets is never finishing that Trip Report. So many generous people contributed to the overall success and incredible memories of our trip and I should have seen the trip report through to it's conclusion - as a way of thanking them for their generosity if nothing else. They deserved to see the faces of my daughters as they pranced and danced around the World in their beautiful custom made clothes and enjoyed the maximum amount of magic and pixie dust because of the advice and tips given to me by the wonderful DIScommunity.

    Even the text alone of a completed trip report would have made for a fabulous scrapbook for my daughter's one and only Make A Wish trip, and to this day, I continue to kick myself in the pants for giving up. I'm not a quitter, but back in 2010, I quit.

    But we are headed back to Disney in just 22 days and I want to do better this time around. I am not going to vow to never give up this time or make any promises I can't keep. And if you want to stop reading right now, I don't blame you. But now here I am, giving it another go, and I'd like to invite you to come along for the ride!

    Table of Contents:

    1: The Plans......well, at least the start of them!
    2. Magic Bands have arrived & and Dollars to Disney Dining
    3. Paint and Ponderings
    4. Setbacks are Trumped by Pixie Dust
    5. More Characters!
    6. DISBoards Peeps are the Best! Mini Give in progress!
    7. 10 more sleeps til DISNEY!
    8. Just 4 More Sleeps Til Disney - What Could Go Wrong?
     
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  3. StefaniLyn

    StefaniLyn DIS Veteran

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    DH, my hard-working super hubby, received an unexpected bonus after Christmas last year. We had an inkling that something may have been coming down the pipeline in December, but didn't know anything for certain until the 1st of January. It was confirmed by the 7th, and didn't make it into the bank account until about the 15th. And that is when the planning truly began.

    I probably shouldn't have waited quite so long. Maybe I ought to have begun making some preliminary plans when we first suspected we would be able to go, but had I made plans and then the bonus NOT come through, I would have been devastated. So I didn't.

    Originally, we were hoping to wait until Christmastime to head back to the World. Back in 2009, we went on Bella's Make A Wish trip during Christmastime and it was the most incredible experience ever.
    [​IMG]
    However, my youngest daughter has a progressive disease (more on that later, I promise) and to be honest we simply don't know what the future may hold so we decided to go sooner rather than later. And sooner just happens to be the end of February....so we're talking way sooner, thus limiting my planning window of opportunity. Um, I should probably be packing right this second....

    And so it was decided, our trip to Disney would take place February 20th through March 2nd! And for those of you counting like me, that's just 21, yes twenty-one, days away. Oh geez....I really, really ought to be making an itinerary.

    Why then? First of all, summer and spring break are out for us. Bella doesn't tolerate the heat of summer and the long lines and thick crowds are not good for her health either. So that eliminated anything after March 7th all the way through um, like September. Just wasn't going to happen. Our options and days were very limited. Let me tell you that coordinating the schedules of three very socially active school aged children is no easy task. However, we somehow managed to find a time that will work for our family. Feb 20 thru March 2nd works for several reasons:
    a. We could take the kids out of school for 10 days and they would only miss 5 days of school (thank you teacher work days!)!
    b. DD14, AJ will be semi-inbetween sports seasons. Meaning her gymnastics season will be wrapping up and because she is not varsity this year, she will miss sectionals but wouldn't have competed anyway and it is prior to the start of soccer season. Unfortunately, it is in the middle of indoor soccer season so she will miss 2 games.
    c. DD12, Kennedy, will not miss any of her regional, state, or national SkillsUSA competitions and will retain her eligibility to become the first middle school officer elected to the state board.
    d. DD9, Bella, is relatively healthy right now and does not have any major appointments (oops...except that one I need to reschedule) during the 10 days we will be gone.

    The basics logistics of our trip (at least the ones I have planned thus far) are as follows:

    *We are DRIVING! Lots of people drive, right? We are driving from WISCONSIN. 22 hours. Oh boy!(Car Rental is booked and confirmed)
    *We are spending 1 night on property (All Star Sports) and 6 nights at a DTD hotel. (Both hotels are booked and confirmed)
    *Our girls will each be taking a YES program class at Epcot. (tickets are already purchased and the girls are enrolled in their classes)
    *Our trip will include 4 days at WDW, 2 days at US, and we are volunteering at Give Kids the World Village one day as well. (Volunteer applications submitted, approved, and volunteer hours scheduled)
    *Each of the girls was able to choose one "special experience* to enjoy during our trip. (Only 1 of three booked. Need to make reservations for 2 more)
    *Because we are only on property one day and because my "Free Dining" pin arrived in the mail 2 days AFTER I booked our nonrefundable off property hotel, we will not be dining Disney, something I have truly enjoyed on most previous trips. However, I'm hoping to enjoy one special character meal for our family. (no reservations for dining made.....yet)

    The basics are taken care of - we'll have a roof over our heads, a vehicle to drive, and tickets to get into the parks. But there are still so many more details yet to decide....and just 21 more days to make those decisions! :hourglass
     
  4. StefaniLyn

    StefaniLyn DIS Veteran

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    The UPS truck pulled up to my house a few hours ago. Not expecting anything for another couple of days, it piqued my interest and I actually beat the driver to the door, surprising him as he tried to toss my precious package inbetween the storm and front doors.

    As he walked back to his brown truck, I'm pretty sure he heard me squeal with delight as I read "Walt Disney World" in the return address label.
    [​IMG]
    Our Magic Bands have arrived! Like a kid at Christmas, I tore open the box and peered inside, seeing a rainbow of beautiful Mickey heads staring back at me! Yippee!!
    [​IMG]

    Aren't they just exquisite?!?!

    I wore mine for about 2 hours today. Just to break it in and constantly remind myself that we are soooooo close to our departure date!
    [​IMG]

    Only 4? You might ask. When we made our Disney resort reservation, we made it for just 4 people. DH will be spending some quality time with his brother (who lives in Orlando) while we are there so we left him off the reservation allowing us to stay in one room instead of two. DH also deems the bands to be too "girly" and has thus opted out of the Magic Band gang. :(

    So I have a few decisions to make in the next couple of days. Dining is one of them. Do we dine or don't we? We're not on the DDP, so most of the days we will be eating a large (free continental) breakfast at the hotel, bringing snacks and sandwiches to the parks, grabbing a counter service mid-day, and maybe ordering pizza after we return to the hotel or picking up fast food on the way out. I'm kind of a go big or go home snob when it comes to Disney dining. As in, if we can't do it big (Character meals) then why do it at all? But I am hoping that maybe we can squeeze in one character meal on this trip. We have done many before -
    CRT is a favorite of ours. I think we have been 4 times. [​IMG]

    We love Akershus too.
    [​IMG]

    Crystal Palace is fun, but my girls are probably too old for that now (and honestly, Bella doesn't look to thrilled to be at CP back then either!)
    [​IMG]

    and one of my all time favorites - Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian
    [​IMG]

    I'm hoping to select a single dining experience during this upcoming trip that I will splurge on, bite the bullet, and pay out of pocket for. Geez, it's so much easier with the "Free" dining program when I didn't have to look at the price tag on some of these meals. But here's the catch.....I'm using my desire to dine at Disney to motivate myself to declutter my house. Confused yet?

    Here's how it will work....I tend to hoard stuff - outgrown clothes, unused toys, older electronics, etc., with the intent that I will one day have a garage sale and magically sell everything and make a ton of money. It isn't going to happen. But because of this fictional garage sale, I have boxes upon boxes upon boxes of stuff in my basement. It needs to go. Last week, my DH, DDs, and I dragged about 25 boxes of stuff upstairs. I went through each box and pulled out anything that I thought would be easy to sell and set it aside. Then I packaged it all up again, loaded it into our minivan (so much "stuff" we had to put all of the seats down in the back and entire back of the van was still full up to the roof!) and DH hauled it off to donate it to the thrift store. Well, that doesn't help me pay for dining at Disney now does it?

    With the remaining items (nicer clothes, bigger toys, a few pieces of furniture) I am posting them on a Facebook page for local sales. It's almost like an online garage sale, and I'm kind of addicted to it now. And whatever money selling this stuff brings in, we will use to pay for a Disney dining experience for the family. So far, we've got about $80 which will barely cover a counter service. I need to look into prices, ask the girls what their dining preferences would be (must be a character meal though) and probably set a goal as to how much I am hoping to earn. And then, seeing as we're only 20 days away from I will have to Wish Upon a Star that a park concierge will be able to secure a dining reservation for us after someone else cancels the day before or day of.

    So in "Two Broke Girls" fashion, I'll now be adding a Fund Balance to the end of each post.

    Dollars to Disney Dining 1/31:
    $83 (as of right now, it looks like we can afford a nice meal at Sunshine Season Food Fair in Epcot) Grow fund, Grow!

    and here it is, the start of our Disney Dining Fund, resting amongst the items which must leave my house in exchange for money to help our fund grow:
    [​IMG]
     
  5. StefaniLyn

    StefaniLyn DIS Veteran

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    I never thought I'd say this, but I actually wish I had a few more days between now and Disney. There's just not enough time to get everything done! We leave in 17 days!


    My DH, sweet, well-meaning, and ambitious, decided that this weekend would be a great weekend to pain the kitchen. True, it needed a fresh coat, but NOW?!?!?! Seriously? Oh yes, Saturday evening he hauled home cans of paint, brushes, and other items necessary for this home project. Initially he wanted to paint both the cabinets and the walls, but I talked him into just doing the walls at this time. DD9 helped out a bit.

    [​IMG]

    I also talked him out of putting 4 can lights into the ceiling. All of these things can WAIT. We have planning to do.

    Tonight, after spending 3 hours at the hospital with DD9, painting the kitchen, basketball for DD12, Gymnastics for DD14, dinner, chores, and bedtime, we sat down and confirmed our park days. So far, we have decided on the following:

    Thursday, Feb 20 - travel day
    Friday, Feb 21 - travel day, stop at FSU, stay overnight in Orlando (DH's brother's house)
    Saturday - Downtown Disney
    Sunday - DISNEY DAY 1 - Animal Kingdom
    Monday - DISNEY DAY 2 - Epcot (YES Program Classes this morning)
    Tuesday - DISNEY DAY 3 - Hollywood Studios
    Wednesday - 9a Richard Petty Driving Experience Junior Ride Along (DD12, Kennedy), Universal Studios, and 8p Disney Pro Soccer Classic Game at Wide World of Sports
    Thursday - Universal Studios
    Friday - Volunteer Day at Give Kids the World Village
    Saturday - DISNEY DAY 4 - Magic Kingdom

    Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

    It may as well be written in stone because at this point, I don't have the time to change anything. I have looked at crowd calendars and as far as I can tell, those days look good.

    Has anyone done the Richard Petty Junior Ride Along before? My DD12 loves cars - building them, racing in mini versions of them, etc. Here she is, racing a car she built with her teammates. She's in the car.
    [​IMG]
    Next summer, she plans to help my dad rebuild a 56 Rambler. I think this would be right up her alley but I am sooooo nervous! 165 MILES PER HOUR! That's crazy fast!

    And the Pro Soccer Classic will be perfect for DD14's special event (we agreed each kiddo could select one special event just for them on this trip) but I'm concerned about our timeline that day. Will it be possible to get from US (closes at 7) to Wide World of Sports and make it in time for the 8pm game? Am I pushing that schedule too hard? DD14 is a soccer player...she's gonna love the game!
    [​IMG]

    A few more gently used items have departed our house in the last couple of days so our Dollars to Disney total is now up to $90. We're still a ways away from Character Dining, but I will continue to declutter in an effort to dine with some of our favorite characters!
     
  6. StefaniLyn

    StefaniLyn DIS Veteran

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    My kitchen resembles it's old self again, plus one coat of fresh paint. The cupboards are back in place and the appliances have resumed their positions. With that said, we have just TWO MORE WEEKS until we leave for Disney.

    My biggest dilemma right now is the clothes. Yes, we are "those' people who have matchy outfits for every day of our trip. EVERY day.
    Take this example from 1/09 for instance:
    [​IMG]

    and example #2 from 12/12
    [​IMG]

    So needless to say, in keeping with tradition, our outfits must match and/or coordinate at the very least for the park days (travel days are preferred also, but I'm willing to sacrifice matchiness for comfort during our long car ride.

    Here's the problem....my kids are GROWING! (How dare they!?!?) and have outgrown nearly every matching outfit we own. Even if the littlest one, DD9, Bella, fits in to some of her sisters clothes now, I don't have matching items for the older kids. What to do, what to do?

    I have been blessed to meet some great friends on the DIS, especially during our Wish Trip planning in late 2009. These friends are now rescuing me from my clothing crisis. Just the other day, two packages arrived on our doorstep. I opened them up and lo and behold, coordinating clothes for my girls! A beautiful custom colorful Minnie Mouse skirt and top for DD9Bella and 3 shirts to be shared between AJ (DD14) and Kennedy (DD12). Talk about some pixie dust! We are so blessed! The older two aren't always keen on posing for pictures, so I was only able to snap a photo of Bella wearing her new duds.....which she BEGGED me to let her wear every day until we leave.
    [​IMG]

    I still have so many details I want to add to this thread before we leave. Though I'm the only one who appears to be reading it, I still intend to see it through to the end for several reasons:
    1. Writing things down helps me remember (way to state the obvious, Stephanie!)
    2. Writing things down, especially things I want to accomplish, motivates me to get them done. Expect to see a few lists pop up here in the next couple of days.
    3. I quit writing a TR once and I still regret it. I don't want to quit on this PTR and maybe, just maybe, it will turn into a TR...a COMPLETED TR.

    We have had a few setbacks this week which have led to little progress on both my planning and packing as well as my Dollars to Disney Dining fund. On Monday, the day I had planned on getting a good chunk of stuff done, we spent half the day at Children's Hospital with DD9. She was having some unexplained pain throughout the weekend and her docs wanted to see her 1st thing Monday a.m.
    [​IMG]
    It turned into a 3 hour appointment complete with an ultrasound, new prescription, and a suggestion that surgery number.....oh geez I have lost count, but we are somewhere in the 20's.....will likely be coming up in the near future. We return to follow up with her doc on the 19th, the day before we leave.

    Dollars to Disney Dining: still at $90
    Days til we leave: 15
    Matchy Coordinating Outfits Needed: 6
     
  7. dianemom2

    dianemom2 DIS Veteran

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    Oh I am so glad you got everything that I mailed and that Bella likes her outfit!!! I always worry about things until I hear they've made it to their destination. I hope you all have a fun and wonderful trip! And I hope that Bella's unexplained pain goes away. And I hope that you are able to add to the Disney dining fund :) I understand the need to be matchy matchy at Disney. We do things there that we wouldn't do at home too;) I think that's one of the reasons we love it so much!!!!
     
  8. StefaniLyn

    StefaniLyn DIS Veteran

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    DIANE, It's YOU!! :hyper::hyper:! So glad you found my PTR and THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts! You are an incredibly talented seamstress. And I must tell you that I oftnen catch Bella staring at her new outfit and she shows it off to everyone who stops by our house. She particularly points out two of the fabrics in her skirt. The Supergirl one (we have always called her Supergirl because of all she has been through) and the Hope Ribbon fabric. It's amazing that those little touches in the outfit just make it so perfectly "Bella." And AJ and Kennedy were thrilled with their shirts too - not too childish (you know, we are teenagers mom!) and with just the right amount of Disney bling for them! Thanks again :flower3: :)

    P.S. We added $15 to the Dining fund today! We are inching closer to a character meal! :)
     
  9. wiigirl

    wiigirl DIS Veteran

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    Following along! :)
     
  10. dianemom2

    dianemom2 DIS Veteran

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    Yes, here I am :wave2: I don't get on here as much anymore. We don't have any trips planned and between working and sewing and taking care of my family, it doesn't leave me too much free time. I am so glad that all the girls liked what I sent. I did the same shirts for my girls (who are 13 and 14) on our last trip and they really liked them. And they didn't mind matching me and DH since their shirts had some bling on them. But of course, not too much bling.:thumbsup2 Supergirl is the perfect nickname for Bella. She sure has been through a lot!

    So glad you were able to add to the Disney dining fund today.
     
  11. StefaniLyn

    StefaniLyn DIS Veteran

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    Many incredible stories include not just those in starring roles, but also many other cast members as well. This trip will be no different. In addition to the Stars of the Show, DH, myself, DD14, DD12, and DD9, we will have a handful of "Extras" who will join us for all or part of our trip.

    Playing the role of "Super Duper Supporting Female Lead" is Grandma Chari (DGMA):
    [​IMG]
    Gramma, as we call her, has been on many trips with us. We have taken her to South Dakota, Niagara Falls, Maine, Bella's Make A Wish trip to Disney, several other Disney trips, etc. She's pretty awesome and we love her to pieces. Gramma isn't traveling with us this time, but she will be joining us for Days 7-9 of our trip when we are visiting Universal Studios and Give Kids the World Village.

    In the very important role of BestieFamilyFriendsForever, we have the Maxwell Family (W1-). These guys are amazing and I am sooo excited for their trip because.....they will be on a MAKE A WISH TRIP! Their youngest daughter, Emily (we'll call her WK1), has the same diagnosis as our DD9, Bella, and we met the Maxwell's at Camp Sunshine in Maine 3 years ago. This isn't a great pic, but its the only one I have of all 4 of them.
    [​IMG]

    *Little backstory/explanation: Our youngest daughter Bella was born with lots of medical issues which resulted in 3 months in the NICU, over 20 surgeries and procedures, over 250 nights spent in the hospital.
    [​IMG]
    When she was 6, doctors finally figured out why she had so many medical issues. She was diagnosed with a very rare and terminal disease, Fanconi Anemia (FA). FA leads to bone marrow failure which requires a risky bone marrow transplant to save the patient. That same transplant can also kill them. Failure usually occurs around the ages of 9-12. If a person with Fanconi Anemia survives transplant, they still face the probablility of developing cancer at a very early age - usually late teens and early 20s - and cancers can be very difficult to treat. Currently the median life expectancy for someone with FA is just 29 years (which is improved greatly from the 23 years we were told when Bella was diagnosed 3 years ago.) But Bella is doing pretty good now, despite her bone marrow starting to fail. And I love sharing pictures of her:
    [​IMG]

    So where was I? Oh yes, so our family became friends with the Maxwell family because we attended Fanconi Anemia Family Camp together in Maine for the pas 3 years. During our short time together (1 week each year), we have become great friends and keep in contact throughout the year. Bella is Besties with WK5's big sister, Erin. Here are my kids making an Erin Sandwich: [​IMG]
    My Bella went on a Wish Trip to Disney several years ago and it was the most amazing experience. I've been giddily helping their family plan the trip using my experience and expertise as a former Wish Trip mom. Here's the Wish Kid and her mom:
    [​IMG]

    When we started planning our trip in early January, we hadn't yet heard when the Maxwell's dates would be. However, when they confirmed their dates and we confirmed ours, we quickly realized that our trips would overlap by 2 days! :cool1: Since they live in Virginia (and are soon moving to Hawaii) we only see them once a year but now we will be able to spend some Disney fun time with them! Woo Hoo. The Maxwell family will join us for portions of day 8 and all of day 9 at the Magic Kingdom!

    Two more characters that will join us are TJ and Jessica. TJ is DH's brother and he lives in Orlando. Jessica is his wife. Their wedding in 2012 was not only amazing, it also gave us and opportunity to extend our trip and spend some quality time at WDW in Oct '12.
    [​IMG]
    TJ is that goofy guy in the front and Jessica is the tall lady in the back center. This was taken on one of our return trips to Give Kids the World Village. Hey Look! Grandma is in that picture too!

    Did you think we were done already? Oh no....there is still one more group of characters to introduce you to. We will be spending a lot of time with these peeps because their trip dates overlap ours almost exactly and, it's another WISH family! Katie, the Wish Kid, also has FA like Bella and the Hendersons are another family we met at Camp Sunshine several years ago. We're so excited to be able to spend time with our extended FA-maily (Get it? Fanconi Anemia = FA, FA-mily)!

    Here's a picture of Bella and Katie [​IMG]. Katie's brother, Nathan, is the same age as DD14 and they like to hang out together at Camp too. They have already been making plans to ride all the "BIG" rides together so they don't have to listen to the little kids scream!

    So here's a quick recap:
    Our Family -
    DH - Ben
    Me - Stephanie
    DD14 - AJ
    DD12 - Kennedy
    DD9 - Bella (former Wish Kid and GKTW Alumni)

    DGMA - Grandma Chari

    DBIL - TJ (brother in law that lives in Orlando with...)
    DSIL - Jessica

    Maxwell Family
    W1D (Wish family 1 Dad) - Ian
    W1M - Trisha
    WK15 - Emily (Wish Kid)
    WKS1 - Erin (Wish Kid's sister)

    Henderson Family
    W2D - David
    W2M - Shawn
    WK2 - Katie
    WKB2 - Nathan

    Phew......that's a lot to remember....don't worry, I'll probably just use names and a bunch of pictures to help you understand! And there won't be a test at the end.

    Days to Disney - 13
    Dollars to Disney Dining (added a bit) $105 - not quite a character meal, but I'm working on it!
     
  12. dianemom2

    dianemom2 DIS Veteran

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    I'm not sure I will be able to keep everybody straight!!! That's quite a long list of people. It is so nice to have such wonderful family and friends in your lives! And how great that you can use some of your expertise to help another MAW family plan their trip too.
     
  13. StefaniLyn

    StefaniLyn DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for joining in! I hope you enjoy the ride!

    Most of them will just be joining us for short periods of time here and there but I'll be mentioning them along the way so I wanted to introduce them. WK2, Kaitlyn, had the most amazing day today at her Make A Wish send off party. Her entire city even named a DAY after her! I feel like an honored guest at the party of the two Wish Families. And shhhh.....I have a little secret - we're hoping to be able to greet the family of WK1 at the airport! How cool would that be?
     
  14. StefaniLyn

    StefaniLyn DIS Veteran

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    As if our trip to Disney World in 11 days isn't going to be amazing enough by itself, some dear friends on the DISboards and Facebook have decided to add the icing on our cake. The are showering us with a Mini-Big-Give! "What's that?" :confused3 You ask....I will tell you what it is.....

    Several years ago when Bella went on her Make A Wish Trip, this wonderful group of complete strangers decided to make our trip extra special by creating custom clothing, gorgeous hair accessories, and other gifts which made our amazing trip even more incredible. This is called a Big Give and is bestowed upon randomly selected Wish Families, including ours. Here are some pictures of the miles of smiles the original Big Give brought to our family. [​IMG]

    Now that they have discovered we are headed back to the World, they're doing it again! Just when I thought we might have to do Disney without matching outfits, our Fairy Godmothers come to the rescue and help enrich our upcoming trip with matching outfits and other surprises. Saying 'we are blessed' doesn't even begin to describe how I feel right now....:dance3:

    It started the other day when two pink packages arrived on our doorstep. The first contained this gorgeous, stunning Whimsical Minnie outfit for Bella:
    [​IMG]

    Bella couldn't wait to put on this custom Whimsical Minnie skirt and top. It is simply gorgeous and perfectly fits Bella and her personality. In addition to the embroidered Minnies on the top, there are several on the skirt as well. I think she will be wearing this to our day at Epcot!

    [​IMG]

    this is one of the fabrics in the skirt. Notice the Supergirl logo. We have always called Bella our "Supergirl" because of her strength and perseverance through everything. Diane, you, couldn't have picked a more perfect fabric!
    [​IMG]

    and then I nearly cried when I saw these little HOPE ribbons in one of the Fanconi Anemia colors (red, white, and pink). Just. So. Perfect
    [​IMG]

    Diane also sent three gorgeous embrodered tops that my preteen and teenager absolutely LOVE! They can't wait to wear them and coordinate with their sister!

    And then yesterday, ANOTHER package arrived! More? Omgosh! Oh yes, there was MORE! And somebody must have spread the word that my very favorite colors in the entire whole wide world are pink and green because.......THIS:
    [​IMG]

    Matching skirts and shirts for Bella and Kennedy, and AJ received a more mature-looking top (picture of her later - she is at a sleepover tonite) These were made by the very talented Jennifer Wood. OMGosh I cannot get over how much I love them (the outfits, and the girls too of course!)

    [​IMG]

    That's AJ's top over there on the left hand side. Despite being nearly 15, she's still game for the matchy-matchy family stuff when it comes to Disney. I must have done something right with that kid!

    [​IMG]

    Tonight my heart is warm and I feel incredibly lucky, blessed, I don't know what the right word is for this feeling. I just know it feels amazing and causes this little lump in my throat and watery eyes whenever I think about it. And all because of the kindness of "strangers" who have become friends :grouphug:

    P.S. There's already more, but this post is getting lenghty and I need to grab a kleenex before writing about the next one. Stay tuned....
     
  15. Twice_as_Nice

    Twice_as_Nice Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2010
    Messages:
    188
    HI STEPHANIE, it's Amy and Casper :wave2:

    My fellow FAmily member I am SO SO SO EXCITED for you guys and will for SURE be following along with your TR.

    I can let you know that it was YOU posting on FB about your upcoming trip that encouraged me to convince my DH that we should bit the bullet and finally take the kids too. Plus Caspers hem/onc telling us he is in the beginning stages of bone marrow failure so we figured we shouldn't wait. SO YOU are to blame for our upcoming trip in AUGUST. :rotfl2:

    THANK YOU!

    I cannot wait to see all the fun you, your hubby, Bella, and the girls have.

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I finally have a friend who is just as obsessed with Disney as I am. :goodvibes

    The girls outfits look AMAZING, and if you have any old ones that no longer fit in the size 10/12 range I would totally buy them off you and help add to your special dinner fund I have PP. :thumbsup2
     
  16. StefaniLyn

    StefaniLyn DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    752
    As promised, I'm about to give you a peek into something that honestly had me sobbing when I first laid eyes on it. I opened up my door to leave the other day and a package fell from inbetween the doors, sandwiched there by the mailman I suppose. Wherever I was going could wait, because I certainly couldn't. So I tore open the box and inside I found this precious gem:

    [​IMG]

    Now this may seem relatively harmless, but it isn't. In fact, it has incredible healing and heartwarming powers well beyond that of any regular bright red binder because this is a SCRAPBOOK, and it is filled to the brim with pre-made Disney page layouts just begging for pictures of our upcoming vacation to complete it. I simply am in awe.
    [​IMG]

    As a scrapbooker myself, I know how much time, money, energy, and talent went into each of these pages and I never in my wildest dreams thought we would have a scrapbook waiting for us upon our arrival home.
    [​IMG]
    To date, I have only scrapped one of our five Disney trips. That's right, I am about 8 years behind! Sad, but true. Fortunately, this upcoming trip's pictures will not meet the same fate as pictures will meet pages as soon as Walgreens can print my pictures the day we arrive home.
    [​IMG]

    I'm fairly certain had I been on a heart monitor as I flipped through the book that my rhythm would have resembled the center picture above. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Disers who contributed to this masterpeice.

    In other news, we are down to just 10 days!!!!

    [​IMG]

    And....we added about $30 to our Disney Dining fund today (and we MUST do Disney Dining because my new scrapbook has a page just for it!!) We are now up to $135 AND, the girls are starting to come up with ideas for where they want to go. So far the leaderboard includes Cinderella's Castle :-)scared:yikes! I may need to sell a kidney!), O'hana at the Polynesian, and dining with Cinderella and her sisters at The Grand Floridian. I'm going to research some prices so we can set a goal and see if we're realistically in the ballpark with just 10 days left!
     
  17. mommy2mrb

    mommy2mrb Mama to a Princess - But I'm A Scrap Princess!

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2004
    Messages:
    17,132
    So happy you love the scrapbook! It was created by a lot of ladies here on the scrapbook area of the boards!
    Enjoy making the memories to fill it up!!!

    You have a beautiful family and so wonderful you get to return to WDW with family and see friends!
     
  18. StefaniLyn

    StefaniLyn DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    752
    With our countdown now in single digits, I feel it's prime time to make some decisions about DINING!

    We've managed to rack up about $130 towards our Disney Dining Fund. That is not our entire food budget, lol. so no worries, we WILL be feeding the children on this trip. The DDF is just an 'extra' fund I have accumulated by decluttering our house and selling stuff locally. It has been a great motivation to get rid of some of the old stuff we no longer need. We're not on the DDP this time around, so we plan on a lot of counter services. However, the DDF will be used for a character or table service meal of the children's choice.

    I've put together some estimates for the restaurants the kids suggested for our DDF. Please feel free to correct my prices if I'm wrong!!!

    DD14's suggestion:
    O’hana Breakfast
    22.36 X4 = 89.44
    12.77 X 1 = 12.77
    -----------------------
    Total 102.21
    Tax (included)
    Tip 18.39
    Grand Total – 120.61

    We haven't been to O'hana since our first trip to the World back in 08.
    [​IMG]

    DD12 Suggested 1900 Park Fare, a favorite of ours on the past two trips especially since we were blessed with Anastasia and Drizella and Cinderella dresses before Bella's Wish Trip and those get the girls LOTS of attention from the characters;
    1900 Park Fare
    38.33 X 4 = 153.32
    19.16 X 1 = 19.16
    ------------------------
    Total = 172.48
    Tip = 31.05
    Grand Total = 203.53
    [​IMG]

    And not surprising, DD9, the princess, has suggested Cinderella's Royal Table
    CRT
    53.29 X4 =213.16
    34.64 X1 = 34.64
    Tax and Tip Included
    Grand Total – 247.80

    [​IMG]

    As I expected, I'd have to sell a kidney for CRT. I like my kidneys. I think I might just put the kabosh on that one.

    We have enough already for O'hana, but our family's biggest meal of the day is never Breakfast and a continental breakfast is included in our offsite hotel. Sooo....I'm not ruling it out, but I don't think it would be the best use of our DDF.

    1900 Park Fare -yes, we love it, but my girls have outgrown (darn them) their Cindy & Sisters outfits and I'm not sure they would find it quite as amusing if the sisters and stepmother weren't messing with them the entire time as they did when my girls showed up in costume.

    So I'm looking for other suggestions.....PLEASE! Please bestow your Disney Dining expertise upon us and suggest alternative dining experiences for us to spend our DDF on!

    I am not 100% that it has to be a 'Character" meal, but I want it to be a special experience, within the $150-200 range (4 adults and 1 child), and have great food. I'm leaning towards a lunch or dinner because those meals are when our family eats the most.

    Of course, all of this hinges on us being able to secure a last minute reservation at whatever restaurant we decide upon, but we have been lucky in that regards historically so I'm hoping that trend continues.

    In other news, our Big Give just got BIGGER! Yesterday Bella quickly finished her homework so she could open up the Disney Mail that had arrived in our box!
    [​IMG]

    inside we found three of these beauties:
    [​IMG]

    Three gorgeous Minnie necklaces. THe girls LOVE them. AJ and Kennedy have both decided to wear theirs as bracelets, and Bella will wear hers as a necklace! [​IMG]

    Thank you Pixie Twist Designs! Bella was so excited to open the package and she loved the beautiful necklaces inside. I LOVE the necklaces, and of course, I had to make them into a Mickey Mouse because we are just 9 days away!
     
  19. dianemom2

    dianemom2 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,573
    I love the bracelets. They are so fun and Disney!

    Have you priced out dinner at Akershus in Epcot? We took my two there when they were 8 and 9. They loved it! It was nice too because there was a salad bar but the main part of the meal was served instead of a buffet.
     
  20. StefaniLyn

    StefaniLyn DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    752
    I've been purposely absent lately, not wanting to turn this PTR into a PTPP - that is a pre-trip pity party. But it's hard. We received some pretty devastating news on Friday. News that I couldn't share with anyone until today and didn't want to share with anyone, especially my girls,....ever.

    Let me rewind a little bit. Last Thursday marked the 1 week countdown for our Disney trip. I was floating on cloud nine, high on Big Give pixie dust and gleefully humming Disney tunes as I cleaned the house when DH called. The news he shared was life changing. He had heard a rumor floating around his place of work that was not good news. And I couldn't say a word due to a confidentiality clause.

    My husband is the only one who works in our household. We choose to be a single income family for two reasons. First, we both agreed that raising our children, especially when they were very young, was OUR responsibility, not that of a child care center. I do not criticize those who choose child care and working for their family, it simply isn't for us. So since our oldest was a toddler, I have stayed home. Secondly, after Bella (DD9) was born, it quickly became clear that her medical management is a full time job. Many appointments, surgeries and recoveries, and frequent hospitalizations require scheduling flexibility that a job wouldn't allow. So I stay home, even though my kids are in school full time. DH is, and has been, the sole breadwinner for our family. I think you see where this is going.

    On Friday morning (Valentine's day - Bella was dressed so cute when I sent her off with a huge smile, even though my heart was heavy as we knew what news was likely coming down the pipeline.
    [​IMG]
    Bella was even sporting some cute heart shaped braids:
    [​IMG]

    Mid morning, the phone call came that we were dreading. It was confirmed that the business my DH works for was closing all 11 of it's stores permanently after 60 years of business. He is guaranteed a job for just 60 more days and then this family of 5 will have no source of income, no benefits, no insurance, and a lot of free time on our hands unless he finds another job. And in this economy, we all know that isn't an easy task.

    :scared:

    I panicked a little bit.....okay. A LOT. But we had spoken the night before and both decided that no matter what -

    WE
    ARE
    STILL
    GOING
    TO
    DISNEY . . . . even if DH just lost his job.

    That's right, we have already invested too much nonrefundable money in this trip to turn back now. We have been looking forward to this trip since we stepped off the plane from our last trip to WDW 18 months ago. That, and the fact that we have been blessed with the Big Give and I desperately want to show off those awesome outfits in the parks, means we are still full steam ahead and headed towards WDW and now our countdown is down to just 3 (THREE!!!!:banana::banana::banana:) more days!

    However, being that we are reasonably sane :laughing: and occasionally attempt fiscal responsibility:rolleyes1, we do need to make some changes to our plans.

    Here's what isn't changing:

    DISNEY TICKETS: We have already bought and paid for WDW 4 day tickets via the YES (Youth Education Series) program.

    LODGING: We have already paid for our 1 day onsite and 5 nights off site hotel rooms.

    TRAVEL: Our rental car will be the cheapest mode of transportation so we won't be making any changes to that. (DH is great at priceline and our 10 day moderate car rental is just $240). But maybe we'll try some of those wacky internet ideas for improving gas mileage! jk

    Here's what IS changing:

    Universal Studios PARK TICKETS: No more Universal Studios. 2 day tickets for our family would have run around $600 and we had not yet paid for those yet. So we are nixing Universal Studios.

    FOOD: We were planning on doing a combination of continental breakfasts at the hotel, counter services at the parks, and delivery/drive through dinners and ONE Dining Experience that we have been saving up some money we earned by selling old clothes and toys. Our new plan is to carry in sandwiches on park days and possibly eat a light snack there. And we are still up in the air about the Disney Dining dollars....do we split it up and do several counter services or continue with our plan for one more expensive meal. TBD.

    PLANS for WED and THURS: These were supposed to be our Universal Days, but now I have to revamp our entire schedule. We had contemplated adding a couple of Disney Days to our tickets, but found a couple of more exciting alternatives instead. Stay tuned for more on this


    We could easily let this ruin our trip. The threat of unemployment and no income and no insurance is pretty scary, especially in this economy.

    BUT NOBODY, not even Mr. Unemployment, RAINS ON OUR DISNEY PARADE!

    I am confident that DH will find a job - he's awesome and very hard working. I hope it's in this same area, but we are willing to move if necessary. In the meantime, we're putting aside the thoughts of living in a cardboard box or moving in with the in-laws and are simply going to drive away from the disaster for 10 blissful, beautiful, and memorable days in the Happiest Place on Earth. Hmm....maybe DH should bring along his resume just in case they are hiring! :confused3
     
  21. THiiNKTiiNKx0

    THiiNKTiiNKx0 Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2013
    Messages:
    59
    Oh no!! Im so sorry to hear the devastating news...im hoping and praying that job opportunities open up and hes able to start a new job, maybe even a better one, as soon as the current one shuts its doors. But I dont think Disney could have came at a better time. Instead of sitting at home dreading whats coming and worrying, you get to let all your worries slip away at the happiest place on earth! Im so glad you are still able to go. Have fun and I cant wait to hear all about it!
     

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