Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and 'been-there-done-that' reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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44 years and 1 day

Yesterday, I turned 44 years and one day old.  I wrote a blog post (read it here!) all about my birthday and what my actual day looked liked, but I woke up this morning with more to share.  So, what did 44 years and 1 day bring?

On Thursday, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. as a 44 year and 1 day old woman.  Constantly, for the last 24 years and 21 days, at least one person calls me “mom”, meaning I happily put my desires on the back burner…a deliberate, daily action for more than half my life.

So, I’m up at 6:30 a.m. to begin my day because Tuesdays and Thursdays are college days.  Not for me…I graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in 1997.  Tu/Th means college classes for my 11 and 13-year-old daughters.  Read 5 reasons why we homeschool here.

In true modern-life fashion, the first thing I reach for in the morning is my phone.  About 3 months ago, I finally started to flip my ringer off at night.  Since my son left for college in 2011, I worry about him constantly and always keep the phone on my nightstand, ringer on full-blast.  Now that the ringer is off at night, I check the phone first thing, just incase.  Full disclosure:  He graduated from college in 2015 and I still have my phone on vibrate (just incase).  Baby steps, people.  Baby steps.

I typically spend 10 ish minutes looking through Facebook, maybe Twitter, and seldomly Instagram.  Come on, I am 44.  Facebook is my jam.

A friend sent me a Facebook message asking about the mesh laundry baskets we use to protect, raise and house our monarch caterpillars.  I wanted to verbally describe the containers, but felt a picture would be better.  In my pj’s and clunky old-lady Vionic house-shoes (plantar fasciitis, remember?), I went to the garage to grab an empty habitat for an outdoor photo shoot.  I took the pic, put the basket back into the garage and stepped down onto the drive way.

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Well…I sort of “stepped down”.  The clunky house-shoe on my right foot slipped off as I stepped down from the garage doorway.  I twisted my ankle and fell directly on my rear, jarring my spine from my tailbone to my skull on the not-so-shock-absorbent concrete.  Of course, I used my left hand to brace myself, which in reality, only added to the list of injuries.  I laid on the driveway for a few minutes, accessing all damage, and laughing/crying at my old lady self…so thankful we live in the country, where neighbors are few and far between.

Besides my pride and ego, the other injuries are minor, mostly bruising and sore muscles.

Gingerly, I returned to the house, made oatmeal and negotiated two peace treaties between the conflicting ideals of my two daughters–at least I was not naked this time.  It’s a miracle.

On April 21, my family made the excruciating decision to help our beloved 13 year-old family dog cross the rainbow bridge.  A cloud of sadness and emptiness lingers over our house and hearts these days.  It has been tough on everyone.  For me, added misery stems from her absence in my daily routines.

Having a dog is like having another child.  Her needs always came before my own.  If she needed to go out and I needed to pee, I always took her first.  In fact, most mornings, I walked her outside before I barely opened my eyes and I always served her breakfast before I fed my children or myself.

As I was getting dressed, her absence overwhelmed me and I cried.  Cried in the shower, cried brushing my teeth, cried until it was time to leave for school.  I miss her.

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Part of my daily routine is calling my husband while I drive to the first college campus.  (My girls take classes at two different campuses this semester.) (And, since you might not know me personally, I use my car’s Bluetooth just to be safe.  I never speed and I never text while driving.)  I am a rule follower.

The phone call is a quick opportunity to check in with my man while my daughters are plugged in and watching a DVD in the car.  Movies create a much-needed quick escape for my girls from their very active brains.  What do they watch?  Well…let me just say, my daughters display an eclectic taste when it comes to films.  I am going to walk out to my car (slowly and carefully) and take a pic of the movies just for your viewing pleasure.  Here you go:

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Yes, all of these movies are currently in my car and yes, we spend a lot of money on DVD’s.  Someone should set up a GoFundMe account.

So, back to the chitty-chat with my husband.  He always asks about my morning first–even if I protest and ask about his day, he refuses to answer until I share my stuff.  I gave an overview of everyone’s morning emotions and a recap of my graceful, old lady fall and waited for his summation.

He starts by causally mentioning his name made the Colonel promotion list–a SUPER big deal.  We have waited AND waited AND waited for this amazing news.  As I am giddy with excitement and congratulations, I bounce in my driver’s seat (as much as humanly possible) and proceed to twerk my neck and back even more than the morning’s tumble on the concrete.  Damn this 44 year and 1 day old body.

Seriously, my husband is so humble.  Green Berets are called “The Quiet Professionals” for a reason.  He is a rock star, but he keeps it a secret.

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LOL.  I am just kidding.  That is not my husband.  This is a picture of my daughter at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  I wanted to throw a little Disney love into this post.  Who needs more Disney in their life?  This girl.  Yes, me.  Duh.

THIS is my man, leaving for deployment in 2010.

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He is an amazing soldier and an amazing husband.

If I made the rank of Colonel, it would be the first thing I blurted out when I answered a call.  But, not my husband…he is always more concerned and interested in what I have going on in my world.  I am a lucky gal.

First college stop every Tuesday and Thursday is yoga class for my 11 year-old.  I am happy to report it is not an easy, blow-off course.  Though the focus is yoga and health, the professor spends a lot of time lecturing about yoga philosophy, morals, ethics, and practices.  My daughter continues to learn about Hindi culture, vegetarianism and historical traditions.

During yoga, my 13 year-old and I sit at tables outside of the classroom–she works on geometry, French or marine biology while I answer emails, make calls or write blog posts for you guys.  After yoga, my daughter changes into regular clothing and we drive to the next campus.

Yesterday, however, she realized she forgot her regular bra and reacted with a full, emotional meltdown in the women’s restroom.  Have you read about my life with profoundly gifted kids?  Click here.

I calmly suggested the sports bra was sufficient, but she shot that down pretty quick.  Next, I offered a switch–she could wear my bra and I would gladly wear the sports bra…anything to minimize her anxiety.  Apparently, the thought of wearing her mom’s bra was mortifying enough to make the wearing of the sports bra acceptable.  That is a parenting win, my friends.

We drove to the next college campus, where my 13 year-old takes Acting I and my 11 year-old attends two different ASL classes.  I create a home base–what I call our “nest”–and I sit there for the next 9 hours while my daughters come and go to the rest of their classes.  I read, watch entirely too many Netflix shows and I do research for this blog.  Yea Wi-Fi.

On campus, the Deaf and ASL interpreting college students were interacting with visiting Deaf junior high students.  One of the professors introduced my daughter and the students asked a lot of questions.  She confidently signed and communicated with several of the kids, which was exciting because these students were her age.  That NEVER happens.

One fascinating facet of Deaf culture is sign names.  A Deaf person MUST give the sign name to a hearing person.  Until a sign name is given, names are finger-spelled using the ASL alphabet.  My daughter has studied American Sign Language for 6 years and has waited 6 years, hoping someday to receive her sign name from a Deaf individual.

The sign name is an act of acceptance into the Deaf culture.

I was writing a blog post when my daughter RAN up to our nest, all out of breath, and almost cried as she told me that a Deaf student bestowed her a sign name.  It was the best day of her life!

Through happy tears, I watched my daughter walk into her Visual and Gestural Communications class with a sign name.  It was like she was a new person.

For Christmas, I gave my daughters tickets to see Alton Brown Live:  Eat Your Science.  When I purchased the tickets, we thought my husband would be in Qatar, so I only bought three.  Life is funny sometimes, right?  Plans change constantly around here.

So, we skipped my 11 year-old’s last class (Yes, she told the professor in advance.) and we met my husband for dinner before the show.  My husband loves Alton Brown and since he is not in Qatar, I gave him the chance to take our daughters on a date.  I REALLY wanted to go, but I was thrilled to give up my ticket for my awesome husband.

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Alton Brown is so cool, isn’t he?

After dinner, my husband took our daughters to see Alton Brown Live and I started the long drive home.  I made a last minute decision to visit my fabulous sister because Google Maps sent me right by her house.

I love spending quality time with my sister, my nephew and one of my nieces.  (The other one was out for the evening…bummer!)

They gave me some super awesome birthday presents, like this Haunted Mansion (my all-time favorite Disney ride!!!) plate.

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And, I got this adorable dress to wear during my next Walt Disney World vacation!

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I am sooooooo excited!!!

Last May, I was diagnosed with skin cancer.  Ugh.  Too many years using baby oil in the sun and too many trips to the tanning bed in my teens and 20’s…use sunscreen my friends.

Anyway, I had some fun basal cell carcinoma removed from my shoulder and the scar is YUCK-Y.  I call it “my third nipple”, which my husband hates, but I think it’s funny–it is a sick way of coping…

My 4 year old nephew (He is the love of my life!) told me to take off my jacket, revealing my shoulder because I was wearing a tank top underneath.  He immediately started asking questions about my scar and poking it with his finger.  He said it looked like gum and I could not stop laughing.

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I guess calling it “gum” is better than “my third nipple”.  lol.

This is my nephew.  I could look at his precious face all day long.

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It was dark by the time I arrived home and I immediately felt the absence of our Pepper Dog.  Last night marked the first time I was home alone without her.  The house was too quiet and too empty.  I could not stop thinking about her.

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I decided a melatonin made the best nighttime snack and I snuggled into bed, watching a few episodes of “Scrubs”.

At 11:30 p.m., my husband (a new Colonel) and daughters (one with a sign name) finally came through the door, exhausted from a long day of school and Alton Brown.

I feel asleep with sore muscles and tight joints from the morning’s fall, but I have this chunk of gum on my shoulder and it kind of makes me laugh.

Here’s to being 44 years and 1 day old.

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What Does 44 Look Like?

So…yesterday was my 44th birthday.  Quite honestly, I can NOT believe I just typed that sentence.  It’s a bit surreal.  In some ways, I totally feel every bit of 44.  At other times, I sit in complete amazement at how quickly my 20’s and 30’s faded.

Each year represents an evolving season and 44 looks different on different people.  What does turning 44 look like for me?

Well…for my actual birth DAY, my super thoughtful, youngest daughter (age 11) made (from scratch) vegan and gluten-free pancakes and chocolate dipped strawberries for breakfast in bed.  The pancakes were inedible (for real), but the strawberries were super fresh and juicy.  She knew the pancakes missed the mark, so thankfully, I was off the hook.

My two daughters got dressed and I took a shower.  I handled 3 separate sister-sibling arguments before I put on clothing.  Everyone sees me naked.  Yea 44.

I took my middle child to the orthodontist to get a poky wire clipped.  Our monthly payment for braces costs more than my husband’s car payment.  And, the payment plan continues for 28 months.  Yea 44.

After the orthodontist, I drove to a podiatrist appointment, where I learned a severe case of plantar fasciitis and a large bone spur is causing my constant and excruciating heel pain.  Awesome.  Yea 44.

My girls read Harry Potter books in the waiting room while I was in the examination and x-ray room for over an hour.

Side note:  As a homeschooling momma, my daughters go everywhere with me–haircuts, errands, gynecologist, mammograms, dentist, podiatrist, etc., etc.  I am NEVER alone.  Christmas shopping would be non-existent without Amazon.  Click here to read 5 reasons why we homeschool.

As for the Harry Potter reading:  My girls are VERY late to the Harry Potter craze.  At 11 and 13, they show absolutely no interest.  The 11 year old HATES fiction and thinks it is silly to read something that is not true.

But, after our most recent Disney vacation, my husband and I decided a trip to Universal Studios would not happen until their brother’s old Harry Potter books were cracked open…hence, the new-found interest.  That’s a parenting win, folks.  Yea 44.

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The podiatrist wanted to administer a steroid injection in my heel.  I asked about the pain involved with the procedure, the steroids, and alternative solutions.  (I don’t like excessive meds or chemicals in my body.)

She asked if I had children.  I said, “Yes, three.”  She then proceeded to tell me that if I could endure childbirth, I could endure the needle in my foot.

NOPE…Not interested in going through the same level of pain as childbirth (or anything compared to such) on my birthday.  Plus, it’s a no-go on the steroids.  I declined the injection.

I don’t think the doctor was very happy.

But, I no longer make decisions based on what other people think.  Yea 44.

I walked out of the doctor’s office and took my two daughters to lunch.

We chose a quaint, but popular tearoom because of the delicious, fluffy homemade bread and fantastic desserts.  (It was my birthday, after all.)  Plus, the restaurant is less than a mile from the podiatrist and my daughters love the food.

I ordered a salad with blue cheese dressing on the side (a BIG treat for me).  It was utterly divine.  I also ate a super yummy veggie sandwich with spinach, avocado and sprouts.  For dessert, I chose warm peach cobbler a la mode.  Cobbler of any kind is my fav.  DELICIOUS.

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My daughters and I stopped at Marshall’s and did a little shopping because my son’s girlfriend is graduating from law school in May and we need dresses.  A cute bag and a few tops made it home…but we were unsuccessful in the dress department.  My 13 year old daughter said I was too old to wear the one possibility.  Awesome.  Yea 44.

Once we returned home, my girls started school, while I worked on laundry.  A sweet friend sent me a reminder text–she needed something I stored in our safe.  Two days before, I stuck a reminder sticky note on my mirror, but I forgot, of course–soooooo thankful for friends and reminder texts.  Yea 44.

As I dug in the safe, I came across my most prized possession.

In 1998, I took my son to the mall to get pictures taken–that’s what we did back in the day–long before beautiful outdoor location family photographers and cell phones with fancy cameras existed.

While I chose the pictures I wanted to purchase, my son (age 5) was getting restless.  From my purse, I hurriedly gave him a random receipt and a pen so he could doodle and be occupied for a minute.  He handed me this:

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“I love you Mommy so much that I want to squ (squeeze) the juice out of you.”

(He ran out of room for the E-E-Z-E.  lol.)

This piece of paper is my favorite thing.  Swaddled within a tiny pocket in my wallet for many years, I eventually placed it in a plastic baggie and tucked it inside a fireproof container.  A burglar would certainly be disappointed with the contents of our safe since it is full of memories and photographs.  Not money.  Like not a dime.  Yea 44.

The contents of that safe represent what we value as a family–ultrasound videos, pregnancy journals, thousands of photographs of our children, military medals and awards, birth certificates and our marriage license–our family treasures.  Yea 44.

Click here to read everything about my unusual family.

After reminiscing for an hour or so, I returned to the mountain of laundry.

I watched “Scrubs” on Netflix and drank some unsweet iced tea (my fav) as I sat on the bed and tackled the clothing.  Yea 44.

My sweet husband came home from work a little early with my favorite tofu spring rolls from my fav Vietnamese restaurant, a ton of fresh berries (my fav) and a box of Milk Duds (my fav candy).  My stomach was already “iffy” from the dairy indulgence at lunch and I didn’t want to add to the madness, so I skipped the candy.  Yea 44.

My birthday gift this year, you ask?  A ton of milkweed plants.  My daughters and I are passionately involved in providing food and habitats for the monarch butterfly migration through south Texas and my awesome husband bought all of this for our garden.  He is the best.

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My 13 year old daughter participated in a scheduled, 1.5 hour-long web meeting with her college French professor from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.. so we planned to stay home.

I put on my comfy PJ’s, finished the laundry and ate my spring rolls while sitting in bed and catching up with my husband’s daily events.  We binge-watched several more ‘Scrubs” episodes until it was time to call it a night.  Yea 44.

Throughout the day, I received sooooooooooooo many texts, calls, and Facebook birthday messages!  I felt like the luckiest woman on Earth.  The BEST day to be on social media is always your birthday, right?!?

I even opened my “real” mailbox to find a birthday card from one of my most treasured, lifelong friends–we met in 3rd grade.  How very lucky I am to still have her in my life!  Yea 44.

As I was closing my eyes to finally rest, I noticed an unfamiliar glow of light coming from the classroom.

Side note:  Our 11 year old sleeps on the floor of our homeschool classroom–it’s been 2 years now.  Yes, she has a bedroom and yes, she has a delightful bed and yes, she chooses to sleep on the hardwood floor.  Click here to read about my life with profoundly gifted children.

From my side of the bed, I can always see her little pile of blankets.   I asked her where the light was coming from and she said she was reading Harry Potter with a book light.  (This is the daughter that believes there is no benefit to reading fiction.)

She wanted to know what happens next in the story.

I smiled and told her she could read for as long as she wanted.  Then, I fell asleep.

Yea 44.

 

 


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Kurios–Cirque du Soleil’s Cabinet of Curiosities Experience

In Renaissance Europe, cabinets of curiosities or ‘cabinets of wonder’ were collections of uncategorized, unusual, interesting and rather odd objects.  Curiosities could include anything from undefined bones, seashells, taxidermy, and pebbles to crystals, egg shells, dried leaves, flowers, insect specimens, trinkets, artifacts and art.  (Sounds like my youngest daughter’s bedroom)

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Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios is a dream-like cabinet of wonder, brimming with steampunk-themed objects, puzzling characters, marvelous performances and breathtaking environments, all brought to life by the hands of a brilliant inventor.

This is a review of our entire Kurios Cabinet Des Curiosites experience.

My daughters and I attended the Kurios performance in Houston, Texas, at the Sam Houston Race Park on April 9, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.  It was our first time to see a Cirque du Soleil show.

Several days before the performance, I received a very detailed email from Cirque du Soleil with information about the venue and directions. (Thank you Cirque du Soleil!)

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Parking was $12.00, which I felt was too high, and only cash was accepted, though there was an ATM outside the parking lot.  Three parking lot attendants collected parking fees and several other attendants directed traffic to control the flow to the parking spaces.  The process was quick and organized.

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The Grand Chapiteau

 

 

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We walked from the car to the main entrance and went through the bag check security point.  The officers checked my bag and my daughter’s purse.  I always appreciate extra security and safety.

 

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Our first Cirque du Soleil show!

The energy and intrigue began as soon as we stepped inside the yellow and blue striped big top tents.

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Concessions selling popcorn, bottled water and snacks were on the right and Cirque Du Soleil merchandise booths were on our left.

A few props and photo opportunities were placed throughout the main tent.  Stringed lights lit the area, but the layout was very confusing and crowded.

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We walked through the main tent and back out into the blazing sun and walked into a second tent marked with the numbers of the even sections.

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A few portable bathrooms labeled for men, women, unisex and families were posted between the other yellow and blue striped tents.  The bathrooms were clean, though tiny.  The sinks provided non-potable water, soap and paper towels for hand washing.  There was a wheelchair accessible ramp on one of the units.

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After we used the restroom, we were directed to go into the tent entrance with the door number from our tickets, which was 8.

Each numbered door had an entrance that looked like the below picture, with outdoor benches and trash cans.  The doors were clearly marked.

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A friendly usher helped us find our seats, which were in section 104, row D, seats 24, 25 and 26.  I paid $136.00 total for each ticket.

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There was a bridge traversing the stage that guests could walk across before the show began and my youngest daughter was thrilled to go across and catch a glimpse of some backstage props.  While the seats were filling up, several performers entertained the early birds with quick skits and shenanigans.

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Once the lights dimmed, photography and video recording was not allowed.

 

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This is the last picture I took before the show began.

Kurios was approximately 2 hours long, with a 25 minute intermission.

The mesmerizing experience started with a show defining vignette–a grey-haired man in a white lab coat appeared to be laboriously working to accomplish something very important.  Several unusual mechanical robots and wacky inventions were littered across the stage.

At first, I could not figure out if the man was a frustrated science professor, evil genius, or brilliant inventor. I kept looking around for clues.

Centered in the middle of the stage, the inventor worked diligently and with urgency to tether and link an enormous chair to poles.  Simulated sounds of electricity traveling through the cables made it clear that something was about to happen.

Immediately, everything transformed into a surrealist perspective of reality and the captivating performances began.

Full of energy, surprise, intrigue and amazement, each segment took the traditional expectation of a ‘circus’ and injected hypnotic, thought-provoking shock and wonder scenes, creating a memorable and extraordinary experience.

A gigantic mechanical hand formed the base for a beautifully fluid contortion act, where the women’s interesting costumes resembled blue-ringed octopi and electric eels.

Rola Bola’s baffling aviator-themed balancing act was breathtaking and fearless.

 

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A precise and skilled violin master played music while a talented woman sang beautifully during the entire show.

Multiple inventive and ingenious acrobatic performances captivated my daughters.

Our favorite was the trampoline AcroNet acrobats, which tumbled, flipped, flew and spun through the air as if they were aquatic creatures gliding through the tranquil ocean.

A woman gracefully sailed above the stage, while performing dazzling maneuvers around a bicycle.  Two talented men used large straps to swoop and zoom high above the awestruck audience.

The most marvelous and almost confusing moment was when we realized there was an actual dinner party with an elaborately set table, food and guests, mirrored in a parallel universe high above the stage and sinking down from the ceiling.  The spellbinding moment still repeats over and over again in my mind’s eye.

The actors filmed a bizarre and unconventional ‘movie’ using only their hands as the main characters.  I loved it!

A traveling steam train transporting passengers parked right in the middle of the stage, unloading all kinds of unexpected, Victorian-era characters.  The constant movement and captivating interactions between the actors produced a multi-sensory experience.

During the entire Kurios show, I was reminded of the puzzling and bewildered feeling one experiences when attending a Blue Man Group performance.  My daughters and I took what we saw on stage and processed the images for several days.  I appreciate a puzzling experience that challenges perception and forces unconscious thoughts about existence and reality.

We missed about 40% of one act because our view was blocked by stage props and the performance solely faced the centermost seats.  However, it was a quick scene with a man pretending to be a cat on a couch.  Though frustrating, we did not allow it to erase any magic from the entire experience.

Our biggest complaint was the actual ‘big top’ venue–it was so very hot during the entire performance, I actually saw an audience member collapse.  People were sweating profusely and constantly fanning themselves.  It was absolutely miserable.  Unfortunately, the heat was distracting and certainly aggravating.

After the performance, my daughters and I went to dinner and drank an obscene amount of ice water.

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Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios was an alluring, steampunk-inspired, dazzling show with gripping and entertaining performances by amazingly talented people.  It is family-friendly and completely appropriate for all ages.

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Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios experience can be seen in Houston, Texas, until May 21, 2017.

Shows are held inside the Grand Chapiteau at the Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West, Houston, Texas, 77064.

Tickets can be purchased online here.

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Interested in other amazing surrealism experiences?  Click here to read all about the Salvador Dali museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Are you curious about homeschooling?  Click here to read 5 reasons why we chose to homeschool our profoundly gifted daughters.


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Best Disney Restaurants for Kids Ages 5 and Under

OH!  Disney Dining…you keep us coming back for more and more and more!

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With 7 Disney trips under their belts, my kids have eaten at a ton of WDW restaurants, ranging from simple snacks to quick counter service to almost every character meal to fine dining at Victoria & Albert’s.  They have seen and eaten it all–and at all ages–from 8 months to 23 years old!

Disney does a great job of creating themed restaurants to serve all guests, kids and kids-at-heart.  Though almost all Walt Disney World restaurants offer a kid’s menu, some are obviously more geared towards the younger visitors.

My daughters and I chose the BEST kid restaurants based on kid-centered theming, characters, fun environments and kid-friendly (not just kid’s menu) food.

 

These are the BEST of the BEST table service restaurants for kids ages 5 and under.

For a list every character meal inside the Walt Disney World theme parks, click here.

Put these table service restaurants on your ‘Must-Do’ list!

Magic Kingdom:

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The Crystal Palace–Read all details and a review here

Cinderella’s Royal Table

Be Our Guest Restaurant–Read all details and a review here and avoid the West Wing dining room if your child is afraid of the dark, simulated thunder and lightening.

Tony’s Town Square Restaurant

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Epcot:

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Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Garden Grill Restaurant

 

Hollywood Studios:

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Hollywood & Vine

50’s Prime Time Café–Read all of the details and a review here.

 

Animal Kingdom:

Tusker House Restaurant

 

Disney Springs:

Rainforest Café–Avoid if your child is frightened by simulated thunder and loud noises.

T-REX–Avoid if your child is frightened by loud noises and large dinosaurs that move.

 

Resorts:

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1900 Park Fare–Read all details and a review here

Chef Mickey’s–Read all details and a review here

‘Ohana

Cape May Cafe

Whispering Canyon Café

 

Click here to learn all about the 2017 Disney Dining Plan.

Click here to learn how to plan a Walt Disney World vacation like a pro!

Click here to read about our favorite Disney buffet!

 

 

 

 


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The Dali Museum

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Salvador Dali is arguably the most famous surrealist painter of all time.  He was born in Figueres, Spain in 1904, and hosted his first solo art show in Barcelona by the age of twenty-one.

His original, striking and dream-like images can be alarming, intriguing and thought provoking all at once.  Creating unconventional art in all kinds of mediums, Dali’s work conveys complex symbolism through paintings, drawings, film, sculptures, and photography.

By the time of his death in January of 1989, Salvador Dali reigned as the world’s most eccentric, flamboyant, and prominent member of the surrealism movement.  To this day, his peculiar work is celebrated by many and recognized by most.

In Florida, there is a breathtaking building showcasing the extraordinary work of this cutting-edge artist in a museum solely dedicated to his legacy.

Welcome to The Dali Museum.

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Located in the beautiful and charming city of St. Petersburg, The Dali Museum displays over 2,000 pieces of Salvador Dali’s creative artwork, including 96 oil paintings, sketches, sculptures, photographs and personal documents.

The building alone is unusual, innovative and dramatic, hinting at the surreal and imaginative contents inside.  A large, cubist-inspired concrete entrance with a calming water feature opens to a stunning glass paneled ceiling and a winding, ribbon-like spiral staircase.

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It is simply breathtaking.

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The Dali Museum exhibits the life work of Salvador Dali in a series of open rooms with floating walls.  Visitors can view Dali’s early impressionistic style and walk through the many series of his constantly evolving artistic themes.

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Admission includes a free-audio guide and public tours.  My daughters, ages 10 and 11, were given an interactive worksheet and treasure hunt which they greatly enjoyed.

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Dali’s slightly strange images are masterfully realistic, but placed into unrealistic settings, sometimes posing more questions than answers.

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The gifted visionary expressed himself in an entertainingly bizarre and outlandish manner, which visitors can perceive through many personal photographs.

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Though Salvador Dali is most famous for his expressive surrealist paintings, the brilliant artist also created three-dimensional supernatural sculptures.

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The whimsical and playful gardens, located on the grounds of the Dali museum, are just as alluring as his influential artwork.

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The Dali Wish Tree was a highlight of our outdoor exploration.

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My daughters tied wishes to the flowing strands, connecting their thoughts and hopes to other visitors.  It was a very peaceful experience.

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Dali’s artistic influence can be found not only in the architecture and design of this sublime museum, but obviously in the furniture, as well.

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Café Gala is a modern and appetizing café located inside the Dali Museum.  Named for Salvador Dali’s wife, the innovative café serves a culinary experience through Spanish-inspired tapas, small plates, soups and salads.

The café can be found on the first floor of the museum and paid admission is not required for guests who only wish to dine.

There are several indoor and outdoor tables with seating in the Avant-Garden patio and garden.

Try the mushroom and bacon Lardoon skewers, fried artichokes, serrano ham and Manchego croquettes, or the chilled tomato and cucumber soup.

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There is also a large, funky and eclectic gift shop full of interesting Dali-inspired and art-themed items:  perfume, umbrellas, t-shirts, jewelry, kitchenware, toys and mustache stickers.

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Our entire family enjoyed our Dali Museum experience.  Before we arrived in Florida, my daughters completed a full unit study focusing on surrealism and several surrealist artists, including Dali.  Visiting the museum and seeing his work in person brought the entire curriculum to life.  The Dali Museum was more spectacular than we imagined.

Museum admission prices are as follows:

FREE–Ages 5 and younger

$10.00–Ages 6-12

$17.00–Students ages 13-17

$17.00–Students ages 18+ with ID

$22.00–Firefighters, educators, military and police with ID

$22.00–Seniors ages 65+

$24.00–Ages 18-64

Members receive unlimited free admission.  Membership for an individual is $60 and family membership is $100.

Admission includes entrance into all museum galleries, a free audio guide and public tours.  The museum regularly hosts additional, non-permanent exhibits.

Visitors can download a Dali app and use their own earbuds for the audio tour, if preferred.

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The museum is open 7 days a week and only closes on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and during the St. Petersburg Grand Prix.

Museum hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Thursday.  Thursday hours are 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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Onsite parking is available for $10.00.  Museum members park for free.

The Dali Museum is located at One Dali Blvd., St. Petersburg, Florida, 33701.  The main phone number is 727-823-3767.  Visit their website for more information at www.thedali.org.

Did you know that Salvador Dali and Walt Disney created a film together called “Destino”?

Click here to check out the book detailing the friendship and artwork shared by these two innovative geniuses.

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The Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center is another amazing museum in St. Petersburg, FL.  Click here to read all about it!

Do you love blown glass artwork?  Ever want to create your own?  Click here to learn all about a super cool glass blowing experience in St. Petersburg, FL.

Curious about homeschooling?  Click here to read the top 5 reasons we homeschool our profoundly gifted daughters.

 

 


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A Review of 50’s Prime Time Café

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Among the glamour of Hollywood films, exciting stunt shows, Star Wars rebels and Toy Story mania, there is a magical restaurant offering guests an opportunity to step back in time to a by-gone era of poodle skirts and Ford Thunderbirds.

50’s Prime Time Café is a retro-themed restaurant serving American comfort food to theme park guests inside Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.  And.  We.  Love.  It.

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The entire restaurant is perfectly and classically themed, including the large lobby, created to look exactly like a 1950’s living room.  Comfy, floral couches, vinyl chairs, old fashioned wallpaper, wood bookcases, sunburst clocks and vintage tchotchkes fill the retro-styled room.

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The quaint decorations and considerable 1950’s knickknacks generate a familiar feeling of visiting an old family friend or spending time at Grandma’s house.  The waitstaff conveys the delightful, old-school time warp by donning checkered dresses, scarves, dish rags and simple aprons.

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50’s Prime Time Café highlights old-fashion theming throughout the restaurant, including the many dining rooms built as if each table is placed in a splendid 1950’s kitchen.  Antique refrigerators, decoupage art, fruit-themed items and copper Jell-O molds line the walls.  Dining areas are separated by open bookshelves displaying kitschy decorations and rooms are reminiscent of a simpler time in American history.

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In this Formica and vinyl heaven, diners can order hearty home-cooked comfort food while enjoying black and white popular vintage sitcoms on multiple retro television sets.

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Lunch and dinner have the same home-style, classic menu featuring familiar and family favorite dishes.

Appetizers include crispy beer battered onion rings, chicken noodle soup, and a delicious Cousin Amy’s iceberg lettuce wedge salad with thick blue cheese dressing, bacon and chives.  I can’t help it–I order the wedge every time.

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Hearty and tasty retro entrées include Dad’s Stuffed Pork Chop with gouda cheese, apples, herbs, roasted potatoes, carrots topped with a demi-glaze drizzle and Mom’s Old Fashion Pot Roast, slow cooked and served with garlic mashed potatoes, brown gravy and carrots.

My husband’s favorites are the chicken potpie and the traditional meat loaf.  My son (age 23) loved ‘A Sampling of Mom’s Favorite Recipes’ that included golden fried chicken, tender pot roast, traditional meatloaf and all the fixings.  He voted 50’s Prime Time Café the best meal we enjoyed during our January 2017 trip.

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Try the vegetable lasagna, sustainable fish or the Caesar salad with chicken or salmon.

Kid’s meals include turkey meatloaf, baked chicken, meatless meatballs, mac-n-cheese, pot roast sandwich and fresh fruit.

Yummy old school desserts include warm apple crisp, a delicious pineapple upside down cake (My FAV!), ice cream sundaes and my kids (ages 23, 12 and 11) loved the PB & J milkshake!

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Familiar drinks and beverages are served, but there are also flavored sodas, like Coca Cola with vanilla or cherry!  Don’t forget to order a root beer float!

Classic 1950’s cocktails are available–Mowie Wowie, Grandma’s Picnic Punch, Long Island Iced Tea and a chocolate martini, to name a few.  There is a full bar with wine, craft and draft beers.  The Tune-In Lounge is next door and serves the same menu in a 1950’s vintage bar setting.

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The banter between the servers and the diners is just as entertaining as the delightful environment.  Just like momma always said, the waitstaff will yell, “Elbows off the table!” and “Eat all of your veggies!”  Our waiter sternly told my son, “No toys at the table!” when my son was checking his phone.  LOL.

If you eat everything on your plate, you might receive a “clean plate club” sticker.  My husband laughed at the sticker and in conversation, mentioned how he would love to give the sticker to his dad.  Our server overheard us and came around the corner with a roll of extra “clean plate club” stickers, which we gave to my father-in-law when we returned to Texas.

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50’s Prime Time Café is our favorite restaurant inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The remarkable theming is second-to-none and the service has always been outstanding.  Eating at this super fun restaurant is a chance to step back in time and experience a splendid, by-gone era, while enjoying some delicious and old-fashion home cooking.


 

Yes, lunch and dinner menus are identical.

Lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Dinner is served 3:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Operating hours for all Disney restaurants can change due to seasonal crowd levels and refurbishments.

Dress is casual.

A theme park ticket is required to dine at 50’s Prime Time Café.  The restaurant is inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios and remember, any restaurant inside a Disney theme park requires a ticket for entrance into that specific park.

To travel to 50’s Prime Time Café, take any Disney transportation to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park.  Parking is also available in the Disney Hollywood Studios parking lot for a fee.  Walking from the park entrance, the restaurant is near Echo Lake on the left.

Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) are highly recommended and can be made directly on the Disney website, through the My Disney Experience app on a smart phone or by calling 407-939-3463.

Current and full menus for every Walt Disney World restaurant can be found on the Disney website.  Click on “Things to do”, then click on “All Dining”.  Every restaurant is listed alphabetically.  Click on the name of the restaurant and then click on “View Menu” off to the right of the middle photograph.

50’s Prime Time Café accepts the Disney dining plan.

Both lunch and dinner are 1 table service credit on the dining plan.

Click here to find out if the Disney dining plan is right for your next vacation!

If you only learn one thing from my blog posts, I hope it is the fact that Disney changes every day.  That is exactly why Disney is so popular–there is ALWAYS something new for junkies like me to experience!  It is also why I always say everything is subject to change.

Overwhelmed with planning a Disney vacation?  Click here and learn everything you need to know!

To read about how I save money on every Disney vacation, click here.

Want to know which restaurant is our fav in Magic Kingdom?  Click here!


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A Review of Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen Restaurant

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Step into Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen, where the Jungle Cruise crew serves up hilarious corny jokes, silly idioms and entertaining puns along side some creative and unique food.

Casually called Skipper Canteen, the entertaining outpost restaurant is located deep inside the jungles of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Adventureland.

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An outdoor pavilion welcomes diners with an island vacation flair, showcasing comfortable wicker chairs, green shutters and a beautiful glass ceiling with cooling fans.

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Three uniquely themed rooms with quirky, British outpost decorations create a quiet escape from the theme park crowds.  The Crew’s Mess Hall is the largest dining area.  There is also a Jungle Room and the S.E.A. room–the secret meeting place for the Society of Explorers and Adventurers.

Take a minute and check out each room–there are some silly and interesting finds!

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Walls are decorated with artifacts, sculptures, maps, photographs, masks and baskets collected from many high adventure explorations of the world’s tropical jungles.

Muted, but colorful, the walls and moldings are painted to look like worn wood and fresco-style plaster, with plenty of shutters and exotic travel details.

Tables are comfortably spaced and can accommodate large parties or small intimate couples.  Seating is mostly cushioned chairs, but there are a few tables with one-sided, fabric-lined, booth seating.

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The restaurant servers are rusty, I mean, trusty skippers ‘taking a break’ from narrating tongue-in-cheek tours aboard Disney’s light-hearted Jungle Cruise expeditions.  Clever jokes and silly puns create a fun and entertaining interaction between diners and servers.

A creative, wandering menu, fusing exotic flavors of South American, Asian, Latin, and African spices and cuisines, represents the rivers visited on a Jungle Cruise journey:  The Amazon, African Congo, Nile and Mekong River.

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Skipper Canteen servers both lunch and dinner and the menus for these two meals are identical.

Appetizers include Baladi Salad, an Egyptian creation made with Romaine lettuce, red peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, and parsley served with coriander mint vinaigrette and Ambasha bread croutons.

Though the portion was too small, I enjoyed the Falls Family Falafel made with chickpeas, garlic, onion, lemon juice and herbs served with white bean dip and a tomato and cucumber salad.  Try the Orinoco Ida’s Cachapas, which is corn pancakes, mojo-braised pork, black bean salad served with an avocado cream.

Entrees include Char Siu Pork served with Chinese broccoli and jasmine rice, noodle bowl with chicken, lamb chops and a sustainable fish option.

My daughter liked Skips Beefy Baked Pasta, an Egyptian dish with spiced braised beef, pasta, cheese and Béchamel sauce served with seasonable vegetables.

We also recommend the Curried Vegetable Crew Stew, served with coconut rice and seasonal vegetables.

Kid’s meals include sustainable fish, grilled flank steak, mac-n-cheese, chicken and fresh fruit.

Desserts are the artistic showstoppers at this Magic Kingdom restaurant.  The coconut bar with pineapple basil compote, vanilla ice cream, vanilla chiffon cake with coconut lime, white chocolate ganache was delicious and probably the reason we will return.

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The Kungaloosh is an African inspired chocolate cake with caramelized bananas, cashew caramel ice cream, topped with coffee dush.  Our favorite part was the cashew ice cream.

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Traditional sodas and teas are served as well as coffee, espresso, cappuccino and lattes.

Skipper Canteen also serves a few select beer and wines.

The bold menu also offers fun non-alcoholic beverages, like exotic Coca Cola Guarana Kuat from Brazil and Fanta Melon Frosty from Thailand.

Yes, lunch and dinner menus are identical.

Lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.

Dinner is served 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Operating hours for all Disney restaurants can change due to seasonal crowd levels and refurbishments.

Family-friendly, tongue-in-cheek narration mixed with clever jokes from the skippers makes this a fun and light-hearted restaurant.

The food plays second fiddle to the fun interactions with the servers.

Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen was very clean and the service was top-notch.  Though the food was original and bold, there wasn’t anything we desire to eat again, except the coconut bar dessert.  The food was underwhelming.

The ambiance is relaxing and since this is not a character meal, it is a peaceful escape from the chaos and crowds outside.

Skipper Canteen is a must for die-hard Jungle Cruise fans.

Dress is casual.

A theme park ticket is required to dine at Skipper Canteen.  The restaurant is inside the Magic Kingdom and remember, any restaurant inside a Disney theme park requires a ticket for entrance into that specific park.

To travel to Skipper Canteen, take any Disney transportation to Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park.  Enter the park and take a left before the castle and head towards Adventureland.  The restaurant will be on your right.

Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) are highly recommended and can be made directly on the Disney website, through the My Disney Experience app on a smart phone or by calling 407-939-3463.

Current and full menus for every Walt Disney World restaurant can be found on the Disney website.  Click on “Things to do”, then click on “All Dining”.  Every restaurant is listed alphabetically.  Click on the name of the restaurant and then click on “View Menu” off to the right of the middle photograph.

Skipper Canteen accepts the Disney dining plan.

Both lunch and dinner are 1 table service credit on the dining plan.

Click here to find out if the Disney dining plan is right for your next vacation!

If you only learn one thing from my blog posts, I hope it is the fact that Disney changes every day.  That is exactly why Disney is so popular–there is ALWAYS something new for junkies like me to experience!  It is also why I always say everything is subject to change.

Overwhelmed by the planning process of a Disney vacation?  Don’t worry!  I am here to help!  Click here to learn how to plan a WDW vacation like a total pro!

Click here for a list of all character meals at Walt Disney World.