Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Needing some ideas...

I really love my Iditarod themed layout for the blog, but it's far past Iditarod 2012, and the new race season isn't for quite a few months yet... But I have no idea what to change it to. Disney? Family? Alaska? Dogs?

What would you like to see?

Monday, May 28, 2012

New Beginning

With my best friend's recent engagement, I have been on a "get in shape" kick. I am severely overweight. It's been a struggle, I am a very quiet and unactive person. I prefer curling up with the laptop, my scrapping, or a good book than going out and doing things. I never realized, though, just how out of shape I was until I started trying to work out. 20 minutes and you'd think I'd just run a marathon the way my body reacts.

Erin gets married in 11 months and I want to look semi decent in the bridesmaids dress. So I'm trying to eat less and exercise. I'm working out on the wii and taking walks with Yuka on the beach. I don't see much improvement, I just notice I'm hungry all the freaking time because I am focussing on it more.

Yuka is loving it, though. She loves going off leash and is so well behaved when she's got the beach to herself. The only time I ever even worry is when she goes after the sea gulls and the eagles. She hates birds, but thankfully she comes when called and typically knows when I'm serious about her staying close to me. I did have to chase after her the other day as she took off after an eagle, but she's getting better at ignoring the birds...

I really hope this summer will be a good one and that we will be able to make this goal a reality for me!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Disneyland 2012: ADR Planning

One of the great things about Disneyland as opposed to Disney World is the smallness of the parks. You walk out of one and straight into the other. Makes it easier to be spontaneous during the day and still make dining reservations and not have to worry about how you'll make it in time.

We will be in Disney a total of 6 days - more than enough time for a Disneyland Resort (DLR) visit. We've decided on two for sure Table Service restaraunts to make Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs). A Table Service restaraunt is the designation for the eateries on Disney properties that are more like your traditional sit down meal resteraunt. Reservations are mostly never required, but during the busier months are definitely suggested. August is Disney's busiest month in their California Parks - made worse this year with the opening of Carsland this June.

After talking with my aunt this weekend, we nailed down three definite things we want to do as a full family. Two are meals, the third is a special thing for the two girls. We may add a third Table Service to our plans, but that can be decided later as it's not a be all end all.

Our first ADR became a favorite last year, and when we were just starting to think about doing this trip we said we definitely wanted to book a dinner at Goofy's Kitchen. It's a character meal that brought the magic to EVERYONE the final night the family was together in Feb. Haille had been timid around the characters through the week, but not here - they wouldn't let her. She laughed and laughed and just was all smiles. So we're going back Sunday Aug 5!!!

Goofy's is a buffet style eatery. They have a good selection of dinner options, and their deserts all got a big thumbs up from the kid. But watch out for that sneaky pup named Pluto, he will check out your plates. Goofy comes around to make sure his guests are having fun. He will dance with you, and get you seated - complete with napkin on your lap. The characters are always changing as to who will be in the rotation. When we went it was Goofy, Pluto, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Cinderella, and The Fairy Godmother (we're still not sure how the last two fit in). I think the adults are going to be more excited than the kids!

Next on our agenda is not a restaraunt, but is a must for any princess. Disney came out around '06 or '07 with the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where dreams come true turning little girls (and big girls, too!) into princesses. Make-up, nails, and hair are done in styles fit for any Disney princess. Haille got the full works (complete with dress) for her birthday - and it was a bit of overkill for her - so this time around the hair and make-up will be enough. We're most likely going to do this on Tuesday, August 7. Hoping for a 2pm-ish time.

As always, theming is amazing, and the attention to detail is second to none. It's not your typical hair salon. The ladies working the magic are known as "Fairy Godmothers-In-Training" and thier hearts are as big and as giving as the ones who make the Disney Princesses' dreams come true. The big magic is at the revealing portion. They spin the princess in her chair, the birds open the curtains and the princess gets the first look of herself in the magic mirror! This is normally when the grandmas, mothers, aunts, and basically everyone let the waterworks go.

Our final ADR that we have as a definite is a breakfast at Storyteller's Cafe. This is at the Grand Californian. No one in our group has eaten there, but I am excited for it. It's hosted by Chip and Dale, for starters, and I just want to visit the Grand Californian. If I had tons of money to blow, that's where I'd stay when visiting Disneyland. It just looks incredible.

The only other ADR that we might try for is one at Wine Country Trattoria in Disney's California Adventure Park for the World of Color Dinner Package. This would give us tickets to a special viewing area for the most spectacular water show I've ever seen. This is a maybe and won't be decided until just a couple weeks before the trip. It's not a for sure, but I'm hoping for it.

The only other must do, IMO, is non-Disney. I want to go back to BubbaGump. I don't like seafood but I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE all things Forrest Gump. I'm begging to eat there the night I arrive. We'll see if it happens, but if it doesn't I will be a very sad girl!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Summer's here...

The summer tourist Season openned last week, and I'm just now starting to blog about it. I headed over to Seward in the way too early morning hours on Monday to train the ladies who would be running the gift shop and cabins at Ididaride & Abode Well. Basically all they needed to learn was the new reservations system. Like the Wildride crew, the folks at Ididaride are down to earth and just so much fun. I spent three days over there - driving back and forth - and I miss them! Ha ha!

Monday was crazy, I don't remember ever being that busy at Wildride, though I'm sure we had our moments. It was the first Cruise Ship of the summer, and we were hoppin'! It was a lot of fun. The guests were amazing, and I think eveyone went away VERY happy. I didn't do much training as I was taking pictures and other extra things. We all helped each other out and even with a few hiccups it was a very good day.

Tuesday was dead by comparison, but we got a lot of training done. Wednesday we finished up a lot of the training and Danny told me to take the rest of the week off. So I'm back in Kenai until who knows when and I'm working on a few projects for Janine.

Other than that not much is going on. We have about 16 days till I can call down and start making reservations for our Disney trip, and I am chomping at the bit! We still haven't nailed down the plans, but I know that we'll work it out... eventually.

Just figured I needed to do an update. I'm hoping the sun comes back - it was gorgeous all week last week - because I want to get out and walk the beach some more. Yuka's really enjoying that adventure.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

2 months, 3 weeks, 5 days...

Partner's Statue - Disneyland 2011 - Photo by
Photography by Antonia
Since I am so horrible at keeping my blogs up to date, I figured the sooner I start the pre-trip reporting for Disney the better. Planning is at a stand still as Disneyland is a shorter timeframe to book things that Walt Disney World. We can't begin to book out until 60 days before we go (which is sooooo far away!) and it's not like Disney World where you can add up to 10 days from the first night of your trip so you can book your entire trip's extras together. It's a call down (or, now, email!) every day at the individual 60 day marks if we want to be one of the firsts to get into whereever it is we want to be in.

So what to do to tide me over? Well, I've been reliving last year's trip for one. Deciding what to do again, what to do different. Reading blogs, trip reports of others, and just keeping busy (the Seavey job helps greatly in that department!). Now it's time to me to start blogging. This place is once again dull. I'm not wanting to get rid of the Iditarod theme just yet, and I'm debating if I go to a Disney theme yet or maybe wait and after this weeked in Seward working and taking pictures I might get a summer sled dog theme going. I'm not sure.

For now, though, I will blog on the plans as they stand so far. They are very rough to non-existant, but I have the cast of characters ready to play out this fantasy, as well as some for sure extras. Tonight, though, I introduce the faces of our family trip.

We will have a total of seven in our group this time around. Two princesses at the age of six will be the stars of the show. This is a blended family trip of sorts, and I feel like an interloper (only reason I'm going is Haille begged).... Anywho...

The Cast of Characters:

I LIKE FLUFFY! - Stitch & Toni 2009 WDW
Tonichelle: Aka your's truly. This will be the fourth trip to the Disneyland parks, and the ninth Disney trip overall (five WDW trips, I believe that means I've "arrived" as a Disney traveller). The family generally defaults to my being the trip planner, I love the "job" as I get to start my Disney magic before everyone else. However this also means I end up driving everyone up the wall with my OCD travel planning, and obsession with all things Disney. I, in turn, get frustrated that no one wants to nail down a plan and then follow it. If that's the biggest complaint we all have, though, then we're doing pretty well, IMO!

When not going crazy with trip planning, I am a professional photographer, and sometime sled dog fanatic (you won't find me on the back of a sled, but I try to be involved with the sport in supportive roles). I'm also an active figure skating fan, and self proclaimed movie buff. Some of my favorite Disney films include Sleeping Beauty, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mary Poppins, and Tangled. Favorite characters include Donald Duck, Stitch, Jack Sparrow, Maleficent, Merryweather, and Chip.

Haille Rae - Nevada City 2011
The Rae: aka Haille Rae. My how time flies, I remember when this kid was just a few days old, with a horrible fro that could not be controlled, and wondering when we'd get to sleep through the night when we started babysitting for her parents. Haille is my "neice" - which means it's an easier title than "my step-cousin's daughter", which is impersonal and does not truly reflect our relationship as it is - and is six years old. Her first Disney trip was last year for her fifth birthday (can you imagine turning FIVE in Disney?!). Disney is my polar opposite, and yet so many say she's a mini-me. I don't see how that is, the child is a girly-girl, she can put together better outfits than I ever could. Last year at Disney she was the one who gave me hair and make-up advice. Gah!

Haille is the reason I'm coming this year. She asked if I would be coming with her when she goes to Disney, and at the time I wasn't sure. Every phone call after that had her telling me that if I had to come because, "Aunt Toni, you know Disney." It wasn't that I didn't want to go, I just wasn't sure I could swing it with my cousin's wedding in California happening a couple weeks before Haille's trip. When I finally said I would - mainly so that someone could fly back home with the child afterwards - that's when the real party started. All of our phone calls have her reminding me that I am coming with her to Disney. Like I could forget! Ha ha! Haille's favorite characters - as far as I know - are: Mickey Mouse, Belle, Ariel, Pluto, and Dale. Her favorite Disney movies, last time I asked anyway, are: The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeing Beauty, and Beauty and the Beast. When she is Disney'd out and needs a change she enjoys - of all things - The Transformers, Justin Beiber, Hannah Montana, and Taylor Swift (I try not to hold it against her).

Newlyweds @ Disneyland - 2011
The Grandparents: Judy & Gaylord. The ones that make these trips possible. Judy is my aunt, Haille Rae's grandma. Judy has been a part of my life much in the same way I've been in Haille's. I lived with Judy (and Gaylord) while I was in Anchorage going to college (and then working for the Feds). She's more than "just" an Aunt, and I love her - even when we argue. Judy is the reason I am obsessed with Disney travel (though she's come to regret that I think). Gaylord came into the picture a few years ago, and they married last year. They spent their honeymoon in Disney for Haille's fifth birthday (we'd promised the child for four years she was going to go, couldn't back out or postpone!). He was a good sport about it, and is being a good sport (I think) about this year's trip. I'm not sure he knew what he was getting into when he married into the family, but we'll get him Disney trained in no time.

They moved to Northern California last summer, and Haille and I miss them big time. Haille is going to visit for two weeks this summer, which is how this trip started in the first place. Haille equates California with three things - swimming, Memaw, and Disney. She's getting all three this summer. Haille said that the part she's most looking forward to is, "seeing gramma in a swimsuit."

The Trio: Aana, Brandon & Haile Elizabeth. To make it an even bigger family affair, Gaylord's bringing his granddaughter and her parents to Disney as well. One of the coolest parts of Judy and Gaylord's story is they have granddaugthers that are the same age AND have the same first name. Too weird, right?! The girls met for the first time at the wedding, sharing the duties as flower girls. They became fast friends and the hope and plan is that going to Disney together will give the girls a great experience with Haille Rae being the veteran showing Haile Elizabeth as the newbie how Disney is done. I think Judy and Gaylord are most excited to see how the girls respond to Disney and all it has to offer.

I don't know Haile or her parents too well. I only spent a few hours with her mom Aana, and I don't believe her dad came to the wedding. Haile Elizabeth, though, is a doll. So sweet and funny. She and Haille Rae get along well together. Because their names are the same we're going to have to use their middle names to make sure the right one responds! Ha ha! So, it's not that I don't want to give you insight to the rest of the travelling party, I just don't feel comfortable talking about folks I don't really know - or sharing pictures. Haile Elizabeth may make quite a few of the twitter/instagram photos that will be shared through out the trip as I have a feeling the two girls will be inseperable or close to it.

So there's the cast as it stands so far. Seven Disney travellers with all levels of experience. The next part of the pre-trip report will be the plans as they become available. Not that this is compelling blogging or anything, but it's what I've got going on.

This will probably be the last Disney trip I take with this gang for a while. Next year I am going to WDW with the parents and sib (depending on when he goes to bootcamp he'll go or he won't, it's up to him). The following year I go on a Disney Cruise for an early 30th birthday with the bff - this is the longest I've gone without a trip with Erin, and I'm not happy about it, but I will deal. The next promised trip I've made with Haille is when she's 10, and she will experience the Florida Disney experience for the first time - and that may be the next time this travel party gets together.

Next stop? Adding a little bit of EXTRA magic...