second star to the right – florida 2017

“that’s the real trouble with the world. too many people grow up.”
– walt disneyIMG_0001it’s time for one of my very favorite posts of the entire year! i look forward to this annual trip to florida all year long, and it gets better and (thankfully) longer with each year. i’m well on my way to establishing official “snow-bird” status ;) i can’t get out of virginia fast enough by the time january hits, so i was MORE than ready for these 16 days in the florida sunshine! there are so many people i love in florida these days, so even those 2.5 weeks didn’t seem long enough.  i spent the first part of the trip with my wonder-friend Nicole and her family, she’s been my bff since we were sophomores in high school! her little girl eva has had me wrapped around her finger since literally the moment she was born, and i was so thankful for a few days to spend with them! IMG_0010nicole asked if i would take a few photos of eva with her parents on one of their after dinner ice cream dates! this was actually the only time on the whole trip that i pulled out the REAL camera, and i’m so glad i did! i love how these few photos turned out of eva with her beepa and fredi :) IMG_0030bwoh my gosh kid you are cracking me up with that little finger and that glare!! especially considering she’s about to give you a bite of her ice cream! IMG_0031bwIMG_0042then i headed across the state to tampa to see my family, and those super cute godkids of mine! i love having them back on the same coast, and hope that will allow for more frequent visits! IMG_0059a few of the photos in this post were taken with my iPhone, but the majority were taken with a canon g7x mark 11 powershot digital camera! i knew i wanted something tiny that i could carry in my purse that wouldn’t break my back walking all day, and i was super impressed with this little camera! it allows me to shoot completely on manual settings as well, and it was tons of fun to play around with. i love that i could still get a pretty good quality image, have full control over the exposure, and that it would fit in my pocket! yay! and ps this girl here?! good gosh she kills me with her cuteness!
IMG_0065IMG_0069then it was time to head up to orlando! my awesome friends brian and sarah were able to join us for the first part of the trip, and i think that was the highlight of the whole trip for me being able to introduce them to disney world for their first visit ever! i’ve always said that one of my all time favorite things is watching someone experience disney world for the first time :) there are still so many parts of the whole property that i haven’t even seen myself, so i try and fit in a few new things each time i go. this trip, we spent a little bit of time exploring the boardwalk area one evening. it seems like such a fun place to stay, and the hotels on the boardwalk loop seem awesome! love how it looks all lit up at night:
IMG_0090then we headed to magic kingdom bright and early the next day. we lucked out with pretty perfect weather (almost) the entire week! some years we end up wearing jackets the whole time, but this year we ended up with gorgeous weather in the 70’s just about every day! yay! IMG_0095IMG_0100IMG_0105sarah made all kinds of new friends at hollywood studios ;) IMG_0106IMG_0111this sweet friend of mine… she is a trooper to say the least! you can see that cute little baby bump (YAY for baby morgs coming this june!!) so not only did she walk the 10+miles every day, but she ended up having the flu every day of the trip :( how awful, right?!? no one should be sick on vacation, much less a trip to disney world! i felt so terrible for her.  she kept that lovely smile on her face the entire time and was up for anything, despite having a fever of over 100 each day and i’m sure feeling completely miserable. no one else could have maintained such a joyful attitude, but that’s just who sarah is. she’s the best of the best and i’m beyond humbled and thankful that she and brian took the time to come and play for a few days. we decided they need to come back next year so she can have a do-over on this trip! :) (and you can find sarah’s “preggers” shirt HERE!IMG_0124IMG_0125via napoli is one of my ‘must have’ reservations with each trip… best pizza ever!! i think i could walk the world showcase each day and never get sick of it, and never run out of new foods to try! but a stop in italy is always a must :)IMG_0131IMG_0143IMG_0144and of course, a birthday butterbeer was necessary too! again, i think i could come here every day and still being awe of j.k. rowlings imagination and the world she dreamed up. i love seeing it come to life! IMG_0160IMG_0161IMG_0164don’t let the muggles get you down! :) (you can find this shirt on etsy HERE!) IMG_0166IMG_0170best “birthday party” ever :)IMG_0171IMG_0175IMG_0184IMG_0201look out, he’s armed and dangerous… with bellatrix’s wand no less! pure evil, i’m tellin’ ya. IMG_0207the colors. the sounds. the signs. the food. the music. the cast members. the little details that you miss if you go too fast. i just love it all. IMG_0209seriously who needs cake when you can have a birthday butterbeer ice cream?! yummm!IMG_0226another new stop for us on this trip was the animal kingdom lodge. i had heard awesome things about their brunch at boma, and it did not disappoint! and it was so cool to see these guys roaming around just outside the door! so crazy! IMG_0247a new favorite image! the castle+wishes fireworks shaped like mickey… couldn’t have planned it any better! our absolute favorite restaurant has become narcoossee’s at the grand floridian resort. not only is the food incredible, the resort is SO gorgeous, but there’s a perfect view of wishes over the seven seas lagoon! if you time your reservation right, you’ve got a gorgeous private porch to watch the show from, and they even pipe in the music as well. wishes always makes me tear up, and i’m so bummed that they’re getting rid of it this year. i’m sure their new show will be great too, but wishes will always have a soft spot in my heart. IMG_0314and wednesday brought these cute visitors, and ALLLLLL the rain with it! seriously except for an hour of a really light sprinkle one day, we didn’t see any rain the entire 16 days i was there, but then it all came for us on wednesday at epcot. we made an adventure out of it and laughed our way through it, but good gracious we were literally completely soaked. i might as well have gotten in the shower fully dressed. the puddles were at least ankle deep, and the rain came down sideways. all. afternoon. long. but these two little girls didn’t complain once, and the older girls may or may not have had an extra glass of wine that night at dinner ;) IMG_0323IMG_0324IMG_0325kenzie was SMITTEN!IMG_0331IMG_0336we could have used about 10 more ponchos, and i still think we would have been soaked! even harper was rocking her blue poncho ;) IMG_0346i’m pretty sure this is the definition of HOT MESS. whew. what a day! ;) IMG_0362thankfully, the next day was ALL SUNSHINE! woo!IMG_0364harper and i took a spin in the the slow teacup…IMG_0374while these speed-demons went crazy in theirs! ;)IMG_0375we told kenzie we were going on a “train” and put her on thunder mountain without her seeing it go first, hoping/knowing she would love it… this was the ‘before’ picture, right before we started when she wasn’t quite sure what she was getting into…
IMG_0385and THIS is the “after” picture, about 1/3 of the way through the ride where she was laughing and squealing with delight! safe to say, she agreed it was “SUPER DUUUUUPER FUN!!!” (in her own words, of course) and we road this 2 more times that day! success!!IMG_0390IMG_0394laura was ROCKING her goofy hat and my “best day ever” t-shirt from happily ever tees :) IMG_0402dinner is served!! :) (ice cream for dinner is totally allowed on vacation, right?!) IMG_0410harper says “i’m flyin’ this elephant, don’t worry about it aunt jessie!” IMG_0412IMG_0421the cutest (and chunkiest!) mini minnie i’ve ever seen! :)IMG_0447IMG_0453love this shot of me and kenzie :) and this ‘never too old’ shirt is from oh yeah apparelIMG_0454IMG_0481IMG_0508kona cafe at the polynesian resort is another favorite spot for breakfast… wonder why!?! :) IMG_0560thankfully nicole came back to play for one last day! we had a yummy breakfast, then headed over to animal kingdom for a few hours. mostly to see the lion king show there, it’s my favorite show at any of the parks! IMG_0561my mom has decided that she needs a tree JUST like this in her back yard! go for it, mama!IMG_0570another new stop for us was california grill at the contemporary. the food was awesome, but this few was worth the trip for sure! california grill sits on the top level of the hotel, so you can see all of the surrounding resorts across seven seas bay as well as everything happening over at the magic kingdom! more fireworks after dinner! yay! how lovely is the grand floridian resort at sunset?!IMG_0579IMG_0581behind us on the left is the grand floridian, and on the right is magic kingdom! i knew it was close to the contemporary, but i didn’t realize just HOW close until we pulled up and the building right next door to the hotel is space mountain!
IMG_0583yep, that seems juuust about right ;) IMG_0593love you wonder-friend! (ps, see the castle behind us on the right? you can even see thunder mountain way in the back!) IMG_0595disney at night always adds an extra dose of magic! such a perfect way to end the trip!! IMG_0612thanks so much to everyone who made this trip so wonderful!! i love and appreciate you all! until next year!! :)

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