11.20.2017

Texas Forever...

Emmy was super excited about the week off from school for our trip to Disney, but she was also a little sad that she would miss her big field trip experience. And to be honest, I was, too! Luckily the field trip experience was the following week and I got to travel along as a chaperone. (Honestly, I'd volunteer to go on this one every year because it is so much fun!) 


We loaded up and headed to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville. Maybe you're thinking that doesn't sound exciting, but how could you not love an entire day learning about the life of someone that is the original "Texas forever" guy? 


Once again, I was enlightened by the amazing life and accomplishments of this Texas legend. (And maybe also that I should have paid closer attention in the YEARS of Texas history that we take.)


Notable facts about ol' Sam...

 At 16, he ran away from home and lived with the Cherokee, he is even adopted by them 
He opened a school to pay off a $300 debt (y'all he wasn't a teacher - but he started a school)
 He is the only person to be Governor of two states
He was adamantly against Texas secession/joining the confederacy and because of this is deposed as Governor
His last words are said to have been, "Texas, Texas, Margaret"... 

(I mean, maybe he could have said his wife's name first, but he realllllly loved Texas). 


The kids aren't as into all these cool facts about a Texas legend but they love getting to walk around this property and learn about pioneer life. 


After touring their family home, the tour separates between the boys and girls so each get a taste of what life was like during this time period. When I went with Radley, I got a taste of all the work the men did on the homestead, so I was looking forward to all the work the women would do, too! The women head straight for the kitchen, which was a separate structure from the home to get started on meal prep for the day.


Each person gets to do their part in making fresh cornbread (and Emmy was extra excited because she got to crack the eggs). 


Meanwhile, these men were responsible for chopping the wood to be used in the kitchen... each person had to do their part!


After all the cooking it was time for everyone's favorite chore - laundry!

(Honestly, I love doing laundry. I'm weird.)

They got to soak..




scrub...


and dry with a "mangler" which was given the name because if your fingers get too close they run the risk of getting "mangled". Ouch!


The cutest group of pioneer women I've ever seen.


 We were done with laundry just in time for the cornbread to finish baking... literally fresh out of the fire complete with fresh butter. (If you want to make some butter at home, we just put whipping cream and salt in a mason jar and shook until it became butter!)



The cornbread was just the appetizer to the very pioneer lunch break of doritos, subs, gatorade, and potentially a few fruit roll-ups. 


Whenever I get to be with any of the kids' classes, my mind can't help but wonder who this dynamic group of kiddos will become. They are full of enthusiasm, creativity, imagination, kindness and grit and the possibilities are endless as to what they can do. I love getting to sit in on their day and watch them learn, listen to them giggle and witness them discover something new. 


Who knows... in 100 years another group of second graders could be touring a museum about one (or more) of them!




11.15.2017

We5Kings of Disney: Epcot

Our second day in the parks started super early with a very special breakfast hosted by a very special mouse... 


We were seated by 7:45 following a 13 hour day so that was no feat, but they were all smiles once this guy showed up. They were especially excited to be able to thank him for those lanyards and pins that he had delivered on their first day. 


They were pretty excited to meet his friends, too! 


Then we hopped on the monorail and made our way to the destination of the day: Epcot. 


And while this made for a cute picture of exasperated kids, it was the perfect indicator to part of our day ahead because, well, We5Kings have honestly had better days. I think it was a combination of our bodies needing to adjust to the pace of our day, the crowds at Epcot and well, sometimes you're just in a mood. 


All that to say, we still had a pretty great day! And how could you not when the first thing you get to do is hang with Nemo! 


One of our favorite rides of the day was "Spaceship Earth" ... as we were walking back towards the ball after Nemo we stopped and snapped this pic and let them know that we were going IN there next. They couldn't believe it and then Landry thought we were really going to space and we had to explain that it was just pretend. :)



The Wine and Food Festival was winding down but the crowds were still in full force. Ryan and I LOVED every single booth we sampled and bonus we got to use our dining snacks on everything except alcohol. (And I may have had some alcohol that day). 


One of the kids FAVORITE parts of the entire trip was meeting people and trading pins. They were obsessed with this pin board and had the best time chatting up all the cast members they met in each country. 



The girls weren't as interested in riding tons of rides at Epcot and Radley wasn't interested in meeting tons of princesses so we split up for parts of our day - I was only a little jealous that I was on princess duty, but I got the big kid and roller coasters all to myself 3 weeks earlier so I guess it was only fair Ryan got a turn, too. 


He did like the vikings, though. 



We ventured into the villages of Norway and it took the girls a minute to figure out that this was where "Frozen" happened. Then they were even more excited because "it's a REAL real place, Momma!"


and THEN we got to visit ANNA and ELSA's HOUSE!!!


and THEN...


Yep... the trip could have ended after this and these two girls would have been just fine. 


And then we met Mulan! Emmy walked up to her and said, "You saved CHINA!!!" 


At this point of all the princess meeting, Ryan and Radley had become "food runners" - they were going from country to country sampling treats and bringing me food and beer. Basically the best day ever. 


And if that wasn't awesome enough - Kelsey was able to join us for the rest of the day! 


We loved having her hang out with us all day... the girls are obsessed and Radley is in heaven anytime someone has the answer to one of his many questions. She taught us all kinds of fun things about Epcot. 

Each country is asked for permission before being added to the park. Morocco was so excited that their KING came to the grand opening. They try to employ only people from those countries to provide a more authentic feel to the experience and Ryan and Radley said that the woman that served them pizza was most definitely the most Sicilian person they had ever met! 


At this point, we split back up for the boys to go get their adrenaline fix and Kelsey, the girls and I went exploring. Kelsey took us to this secluded little treasure in the park so I was snapping pics of the girls when Emmy all of a sudden instructed, "Momma, take one of us LOOKING at the waterfall." 

And while I followed instructions, I was more interested in snapping the sweetness of them holding hands. 



We made our way to France and can you believe who we ran into?

Landry looked at me, "Momma, did you bring my Belle dress, too?" 


And then they tried to convince me to buy them crowns. 


Instead, we found some ears for me and Landry, a Pluto hat for Radley, some earrings for Emmy and lots of goodies for our friends and family. We all went for one more spin around the world on Soarin' which was voted favorite ride of the day by all of us. (At first Landry was a bit skeptical because she really thought that we left the ground and headed straight for the clouds but once I pointed out that the "clouds" were just a screen, she settled in for the ride and loved every single minute of it.)


They boys went for one more spin on Test Track while the girls, well... 


I'm not sure they've ever felt more beautiful. 


We all ventured back to Mexico for another round of tacos and perhaps a quick beverage to celebrate the successful day before we went to claim our seats for the fireworks. 


I love how he never says "no" when they asked to be held. Even when he's tired and worn out, he finds the energy to savor every second of them wanting to be picked up. 


I also love and am so grateful for the people that willingly take the time to love my kids. Not because they have to, simply because they want to. 


And I really love this crew (and how many times they put up with me saying, "Oh look - a picture person! Let's go take a picture!")


As we headed out from a day of traveling to far away lands in pursuit of meeting princesses mixed with adventures into space, we were happily exhausted dreaming about all the magic that was yet to be discovered. 


And if you want a live peek into our day...



11.13.2017

We5Kings of Disney: Magic Kingdom

The day had finally arrived, we woke up early, ate a delicious breakfast and headed to Magic Kingdom. We were all filled with excitement but basically lost it when we saw the park had already been decorated for CHRISTMAS!


As soon as we walked in the park and heard the Christmas music playing, I cried. I couldn't help myself, I was just so overwhelmed with happiness and literal joy. The best gift I could ever receive is watching my kids be happy... well there was nothing like their smiles this morning. 


The first characters we ran into were these beauties all in favor of women's rights - there was no way we weren't taking a picture! 


This kid even agreed - "Mom, Emmy and Landry need to take a picture with them... they are FOR women!" Gosh, I love that kid. 


And then the picture taking never stopped. My sweet family indulged every.single.time. I said, "let's take a picture!" 


But how could I NOT take a picture!




We were a little lost this morning because besides being overwhelmingly awesome, it's just plain overwhelming. We had no idea where we were going, how easy using our FastPasses would be, or what we really wanted to do other than EVERYTHING. We walked straight into the Sword in the Stone and all tried our hand at becoming the next King or Queen of the land. 


And when we turned around, we saw we were right in front of the Royal Waiting Room (or something like that) that included a 5 minute wait to meet some of our favorite princesses! Cinderella wouldn't let Radley get out of taking a picture and I've never seen my boy blush so much. Rapunzel is one of my favorites so I had to jump in there, too!


And then, well.... we got to visit with Emmy's favorite princess of all time and her trip was made! 


I love that you still see some of the old characters walking around... the kids had no idea who Shaker was but Emmy and Rad still wanted to go meet him. 


Landry was still recovering from Big Thunder Railroad... poor girl, she was not a fan of roller coasters and we hit that one early. (Plus we still had a few more to go!) The other two, well... 


That frown was soon not to be found when we rounded a corner and Miss Kelsey was waiting for us! Kelsey was a student leader in one of the organizations I advise and while my kids haven't met an Aggie they don't love, they especially love Miss Kelsey. 


She had arranged to get a FastPass as the same time as us for Ariel's Grotto. As we were walking in the ride, the Disney employee stopped us and asked, "Are you the King family?" The kids looked at me and then her and said, "Yes, ma'am!" She grabbed a bag and said, "Mickey Mouse left these for you! He wanted you to know how excited he was that you're here!" 

Y'all.

They LOST it.
I LOST it. 

Kelsey winked at me and, my goodness, Disney is MAGIC!

(well, maybe not for the kids behind us that didn't have a bag of Disney pins and lanyards waiting for them!)


Kelsey left to go to work and we headed to lunch at Belle and the Beast's Castle. 


We sat in the main dining room under the most gorgeous chandelier but our favorite room to explore was "the west wing"... I know this picture is blurry but it's perfect. As the kids were examining the rose, the loudest growl and biggest flash of lightening ever happened and they almost wet their britches! 


We made our way back around for more exploring but couldn't get past these two looking for the next King... sadly, Ryan also couldn't get that pesky sword from the stone. 


While we were there, we decided another spin around the carousel was in order. These rides are much more Landry's style. 



We never really scheduled any part of our day around watching a show because they seem to just happen non-stop, especially on our first day. Disney was filming ALL of their Christmas specials including parades, fireworks, concerts, etc... in MK that day so we got extra special surprises all day long. My favorite surprise may have been those clouds that brought relief from heat and not one drop of rain!



All smiles, all day long. I couldn't squeeze them enough. 


Late afternoon we started getting tired but our resort was super far away from MK so we decided to tough it out and skip out on resting. So the next best thing to a nap is definitely ice cream. 


And I'm so glad we didn't because y'all... 98 DEGREES was there!! Having a Christmas concert. In front of Cinderella's castle. How fun is that?!? (And how old do they look?!)


Oh, and I got to hang out with Nick Lachey. 


Meanwhile, the kids (who I may have left behind chasing down Nick) were all, "Who's 96 degrees? We want to meet Gaston."

Gaston ended up being the fan favorite of maybe the whole trip. He was hysterical but the best part was that he had no idea how to "handle" Emmy and Landry. His character is on the mark - conceited, chauvinistic, overtly macho. Enter my precious girls...


"You're NOT marrying Belle! She doesn't love you. She loves the BEAST and they are going to live happily ever after!" He was speechless. They were hysterical. And this may be the best picture ever. 


Or maybe these were the best pictures ever. 


There really was magic around every corner...


and you never knew who you were going to run into. 


As the day winded down, we hit some of the most classic rides, including "It's a Small World" which may have been the girls' absolute favorite from the week. We had a blast guessing countries, finding hidden gems in each of the countries and picking out our favorite "people" from around the world. 


Then we got an extra magical treat ... I mean, the details they include in your entire experience. And don't worry - they said "bye" to Radley, too... he had a screen all to himself!


As we were heading back to Cinderella's castle to find a spot for the show, Radley noticed that you could go take a picture among Rapunzel's lanterns. 






I may have to blow this one up and hang it in the hallway. 


10 hours later and they were still all smiles!


Three minutes later, they were all asleep waiting for the fireworks...


But luckily Disney puts on a great show and woke them up in style!



I honestly don't know if they were smiling from the entire day, or the fact that they would soon be in bed! Ha!


Our hearts were full of enough magical memories to last a lifetime and that was only our first day... what could possibly come next to compare?


And if you want a "live scoop" into our day at Magic Kingdom... watch below!