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Castaway Cay Day

This morning we got up and got ready quickly and went to Beach Blanket Buffet for breakfast.  We got a table outside at the end of the ship where we had a great view of the island.



Before long we started seeing people walking off the boat so we finished eating quickly and left the ship about 9:00.



We stopped for a wagon and headed to the beach.


It was still fairly empty when we got there.  There were even hammocks still available.  We got 2 chairs in the front row and parked all our stuff there.


Kate started playing in the sand but this was Ella’s reaction to us sitting her on the sand.


She much preferred to play with her sand toys in the wagon!






Both girls loved playing in the water.  We didn’t go out too far but they enjoyed sitting in the shallow water splashing.





The sand was Kate’s favorite though.  We had a big bucket of sand toys we had bought at costco and they had a blast.


She decided she could play in the sand as long as she was sitting on a towel!


Ella enjoyed the chocolate chip cookie John found.



At 11:30 we left the beach and found the gazebo where the crab races were.


Look at this hair!  While the sea air turned my hair into a crazy mess it made Ella’s hair even more gorgeous.


There was a DJ and some other employees in the gazebo who Kate danced with while they were waiting for 8 entrants to the crab races.  They never got 8 so they told us Kate could hold her spot for the 12:30 crab races.


Ella didn’t want to crawl on her knees but she is so determined not to walk that she crawled around like this.


We got lunch at Cookies BBQ and ate at a picnic table right across from the gazebo.  They had burgers, ribs, hot dogs, and smoked chicken.  They also had a fresh fruit stand with incredible fruit.  The kids got so full on the fruit they wouldn’t eat anything else.  At 12:00 some of the characters came out for a dance party.

They had 8 crabs and each one had a number on their back.  The guy told Kate she was number 3.  He also told her to think of a name for her crab.  She said she was naming him captain hook.  They put all the crabs in the middle of a circle and the first crab to cross the line wins.


Ella decided she’d had enough and slept through the whole thing!


They did 4 races and each winner of the 4 races goes to a final race.  Captain Hook won the 3rd race so he made it to the finals.  In the final he boogeyd to the outside of the circle and won Kate a medal!


Next Kate and I went to the 1:00 family whale dig.  We couldn’t take the wagon with the sleeping Ella down the steps so John sat with her.  They had buried big “whale” teeth around Monstro’s skeleton and the kids were supposed to find them.  They had scoops, shovels, brushes, etc.


After a while the cast member asked who hadn’t found any then asked Kate to come help her dig.



Kate was so excited to finally find one!


They were supposed to throw the tooth against a tree and if it didn’t break they would know it was a real whale’s tooth.


Kate was pretty worn out so after the whale dig we headed back to the boat.




We stopped at the little shop and looked around and got Ella a Minnie Mouse.  Best thing about shopping on a cruise, no taxes!


We took the shuttle and were back on board a little before 2:00.



Since Ella had napped in the wagon she had no intention of napping again so John took her to toddler time in the club while Kate napped.  On our way to dinner we stopped to meet Snow White and Dopey.


Dinner tonight was in Parrot Cay.  Our server Andrei was the best.  When I mentioned I liked the macaroon on top of my sundae he sent a plate of them with me.  After dinner John took Ella back to the room while Kate and I met Pinocchio.


Then stood in a long line to meet Captain Hook and Smee.




After we met them Kate said., “Mommy I sure am glad he didn’t hook me!.”  Kate and I got to the theater just as Toy Story the musical was starting.  It was ok but not one of our favorite shows.  Kate did enjoy it but it was just a little long.  We rushed back to the room to get her band for the club and John took her to Pluto’s PJ party.  John and I watched part of The Great Gatsby and had room service pizza while she was gone but didn’t get to finish the movie before we had to pick her up at 10:30.  This was a super fun and super exhausting day.  I’m not much of a beach person so I wasn’t really expecting much from Castaway but it was amazing.  Think tropical paradise done Disney style.  It was the best part of the trip so far and I wish we had another day there!

Key West Day

Last night we were instructed to set our clocks forward an hour so with the time change the kids woke us a little before 8:00.  We got ready quickly and went to eat at the Beach Blanket Buffet.  I asked the server if they had any gluten-free muffins or bread for toast and he said he would check.  He brought me back some glazed gluten-free donuts.  They were kinnikinnick brand and pretty good.  We went back to the room to wait until time to disembark.  Kate was excited to look out of the window and see land!

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Ella started getting sleepy and fell asleep at 10:30.  We ordered sandwiches from room service and packed them to take with us.  We got a call from Matt right as we turned our cell phones on.  As much as I’ve loved all the family time, I’ve gotta admit it has been pretty hard not being in touch with anyone.  Not that we’ve needed to be it was more the fact that we couldn’t even if we wanted.  We woke Ella and left the ship at 11:30.  Since we were docked at a naval base Disney provided shuttles to take us into town.  Our shuttle was actually one of the open air conch train vehicles and the driver gave us a mini tour.  We had booked an on and off trolley tour with City View Trolleys  so we found them and started our tour.  The way it works is they have 8 stops around Key West and you can get off at any of them that you like and when you are ready to move on you just wait for the next trolley to come by.  We didn’t have much planned so we started at stop 1 but didn’t get off until stop 5.  On the way we were provided with a great tour of the city.  We took pictures of a bunch of places that were significant but most of them I’ve already forgotten why.  I do remember this place had been an ice house, morgue, telegraph station, cigar factory, bordello, speakeasy, and finally bar.  Evidently it was the bar where Earnest Hemingway spent most of his evenings and supposedly where Jimmy Buffett got his start.


the rooftop of this bar is Key West’s only clothing optional bar.

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this was the island’s first school house and the bell is still there

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the original Margaritaville

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pink-cheeked cutie


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the most decorated coast guard boat.  It even sunk a uboat.

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At stop 5 we got off and walked over to the Southernmost Point to take our picture.  There was a decent line but it moved quickly.

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We walked to the Key West Butterfly Conservatory.  We stopped on a bench out front and ate our picnic lunch.  I was sure glad I had brought it because I really didn’t see anywhere at all around us to eat.  I would have hated to wonder around with these hungry kids looking for food.

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Kate loved the butterfly conservatory right off.  There were butterflies everywhere.  They were literally flying all around you.

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One of the butterflies landed on my hand and one landed on Ella’s head so Kate wanted one to land on her so badly.  She kept holding her arm out hoping they would land but she really couldn’t stay still long enough for that to happen.


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they also had two flamingos that Kate loved

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and these cute little flowers were shaped like butterflies

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it was so tantalizing to her having butterflies flying all around and not being able to touch them



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When we went into the gift shop they gave us these cute paper butterflies that Kate stuck on her shoulder.  They had a really nice little gift shop and Kate picked out a cute butterfly necklace.

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When we were ready to leave we went back to trolley stop number 5 which was right outside of the butterfly conservatory.  We finished the rest of the trolley tour with a really good guide who had grown up in Key West.

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We drove past the Hemingway House which you can barely see through all the trees.

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supposedly Hemingway built this brick wall himself.  Pretty believable because it doesn’t exactly look like a professional built it.

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The legend is Hemingway’s wife chose their house because it was right by this lighthouse which would make it easy for an intoxicated Hemingway to find his way home every night.

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This is the shrine they think protects the island from hurricanes.  They claim they haven’t had a major devastating hurricane since it was built.

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Supposedly the residents like to leave their mark on the houses and the man who lived in this house was a baker.

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Kermits key lime pie.  We meant to stop here but the trolley had moved on before we had realized it was the stop we needed and the kids were exhausted anyway so it was ok.

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We got back off at stop number 1 and walked back to the ship shuttle.  The shuttle passes through the old naval base which has really cute little houses.

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Key west was not like any city I’ve seen before.  It was colorful and alive feeling with activity everywhere.  They have roosters roaming the streets because when cock-fighting became illegal they just set them all free.  And oddly enough the roaming chickens don’t feel a bit out of place.  It was an interesting place to visit but I definitely wasn’t bitten by the bug to live there.

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As we got off the shuttle Disney had lemon flavored water, orange flavored water, and regular water for returning guests.  That was nice because we were hot.  We were back on board at 2:30.  John went to relax on deck 4 and explore some while I got the kids to sleep.  This is the shops and the Walt Disney Theater where all the shows are held.

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He took a picture of this screen showing our location and the ship’s details.  We also had this channel on the tv in our room.

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The kids slept until 4:30.  After they woke up we ordered Mickey bars from room service and watched a movie until dinner.  We met Donald and Goofy on the way to dinner but Ella wasn’t having anything to do with them!

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Our dinner tonight was in Animator’s Palate.  They made me the Bolognese with gluten-free pasta and it was so so good.  The show they normally do with Animator’s palate wasn’t working so they said they will do it Thursday.  The gluten-free dessert for the day was a brownie with strawberries on it.  I’m not sure why but Andrei sent an extra one with me for later but I didn’t end up eating it.

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After supper we took the kids to the splash area.  On the way we ran into stitch pretty much alone and Kate and just one or two other kids danced with him a long time.  We didn’t have our camera but thankfully one of the other parents sent this one to us.


Later after being in the water a while she went to look for Stitch again and he walked around deck with her holding her hand.  It was truly magical for her and we learned our lesson, we will take our camera everywhere even if we think we are just going to play in the water in the dark.  Neither of the kids wanted to sleep tonight and Kate didn’t end up asleep until 10.  John went to do laundry while I was getting her to sleep.  While we were putting up the laundry we had a room service gluten-free pizza and John had some of the warm chocolate chip cookies.

Sea Day

I woke up still sleepy this morning because I had so much trouble falling asleep last night.  I’ve heard people say that they get the best sleep of their lives on cruise ships because it’s like being rocked to sleep.  Well I’m not used to being rocked to sleep.  My bed at home is stationary so it felt really odd.  Not motion sickness of any kind just odd.  We had arranged to have breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffet and they brought me down my pre-ordered gluten-free pancakes.  We loved eating at the buffet for breakfast.  It was so nice to go at our own pace and not have such a long, leisurely meal.  Plus they had everything you can imagine on that buffet.  After breakfast we took the kids to Flounder’s open house for a bit (the nursery).  Ella loves being able to crawl around and play with the toys in there.  Next we stopped in a bathroom to put on Kate’s Belle dress then went to open house in the Oceaneer’s club where they were having story time with Belle.  Kate was super excited and loved hearing Belle read her story.  I haven’t seen her pay that close attention to something in a long time.  Here is a short clip of Belle.  Kate is in the yellow dress in the front row.

She was so excited that Belle pointed her out.  She kept telling me that Belle loved her dress.  Ella loved crawling around and exploring much more than listening to Belle.




We got in line for the princess gathering at 10:30.  It didn’t start until 11:30 but we had heard about the lines and since we wanted the kids to have a good nap we knew we would rather wait in line an hour before the princesses arrived than wait in line an hour after they arrived.

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Kate making friends everywhere she went.

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This was pretty much Ella’s initial reaction to every character.  As it turns out she really didn’t mind the princesses that much.

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this girl is already sleepy!


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Kate was squealing with excitement at meeting the princesses, especially Ariel.  She did tell me that she was disappointed that Ariel had legs because she really wanted to meet the mermaid Ariel.  After Ella met her first princess she wasn’t scared at all and actually kept reaching for them.  She cried when we made her leave.  We changed the kids clothes then had lunch at Tritons where I finally got my gluten-free chicken strips.  They weren’t quite as good as the ones I remember from Walt Disney World because I think they were baked instead of fried but they were still quite good and nothing I can get around here.  


After lunch we took the kids back to the room to nap.  The way the room was designed the main bed is separated from the sitting area of the room with a curtain.  So Kate’s fold out couch and Ella’s pack and play were on one side of the curtain and our bed was on the other.  This was really nice at night when we wanted to leave a lamp on and not go to bed quite as early as they did but at nap time they tended to lay in there and talk and laugh so we decided we would have more success to put Ella in the pack and play and put Kate in bed with me.  John decided to go exploring while I got them to sleep.  

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John came back at 2:00 to take Kate to the Oceaneer’s club for Do-Si-Do with Snow White.  This is where she teaches the kids a special dance.  We ended up leaving here there until 4:30 so she could also stay for Mouseketeer Training where Mickey Mouse comes to teach them how to be Mouseketeers.  She told us that she had so much fun and she loved dancing with Snow White and that she also got to dance with Mickey.  Hopefully they will have some of these programs later in the week as open house so we can go with her.  Ella napped most of the time until we picked up Kate.  We got the girls in swim suits and let them splash for about 30 minutes.

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Ella started off being a bit cautious


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It wasn’t too long before she was out there having a ball.  I was surprised by how much she enjoyed it.



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They picked up hot dogs and chicken strips from Pluto’s Dog House and cookies from the Cove Cafe and took them back to the room.  I ordered a gluten-free turkey and ham sandwich and gluten-free snickerdoodle cookies from room service.  They made the sandwich on one of the gluten-free rolls so it was pretty tiny.  It was no problem though since we would be having dinner later.  Earlier we requested that my pre-ordered meal be sent to Beach Blanket Buffet mainly because we wanted to go to the early show of Golden Mickeys but also because we didn’t want to dress up for formal night.  We thought the show started at 6:00 so we got down at 5:45.  Turns out it started at 6:30  so we had plenty of time.  Ella liked the singing and dancing and kept saying “wow”.  She got a bit fussy during slower parts but did better than I expected.  She barely made it to the end though so I know she wouldn’t have been able to do the late show.  The premise of the show is that you are the audience in an award show and they go through the categories like best hero, best villain, etc.  During each category the have singing and dancing depicting scenes from the movies.  The storyline suffered a bit but the musical numbers were good and overall it was a good show.  On the way to dinner I asked Kate to hold my hand.  She asked me why and I said “Because I love you.”  She replied, “Well I love you too but that does not mean we have to hold hands!”  When we got to the Beach Blanket Buffet they said they would check on my meal and it turns out messages got crossed somewhere and my food was delivered to our room.  Our server Andrei went to get it and brought it personally to Beach Blanket (which is not a buffet in the evening).  John and the kids just ordered off the Beach Blanket menu and it was chaos there.  All of us got our meals at different times and I don’t think it was any faster than the main dining room!  If I had known my food was in the room I think we would have rather eaten it in there.  By desert the kids were done for.  They were ready for bed and not even any talking tonight.

Embarkation Day

This morning after we woke up John took the kids to check out the hotel’s breakfast while I packed up our stuff.  Breakfast wasn’t anything exceptional but they brought me back a banana and I ate that with my cranberry bread.  While we were loading the car Kate said, “We need to hurry.  Mickey is waiting for me.”  We checked out and headed toward Lighthouse parking where we would be leaving our car for the week.  As we approached Kate started getting really excited because she saw a huge ship.  It turned out to be the Carnival Triumph but as we got a little closer we saw the red smoke stacks of the Disney Wonder past the Triumph and we were all excited.  Lighthouse got us on a shuttle very quickly. They are only a few blocks from the port so you could see the ships.  Because of the one way streets the shuttle took a roundabout route and as Kate started getting really worried about us going the wrong direction.  She kept asking why we were getting farther away from the Disney boat.  Once we got off the shuttle we were met by porters who would take our luggage to the boat.  We had intended to carry on our medium-sized suitcase ourselves so we could have with us all the stuff we might need for the kids but they told us it had to be the smaller bag.  I tried to switch over what we would need but it threw me for a loop.  None of our documents said anything about carry on size restrictions.  I’m still not sure we couldn’t have carried it on.  Anyway it worked out fine.  After going through security, where I had to have a pat down because of my insulin pump, we got in the check-in line.  It was pretty a pretty long line but it moved quickly.  We were given boarding group number 7 and looked around the port while we waited.  We stopped by the DVC member desk and they gave both of the kids a lanyard.  There was a really long line that wasn’t moving fast to check in for the kids clubs.  We decided skip that for now and get her band on board. They had a nice photo backdrop near the boarding area.


There was lots of this going on.  Kate would do something that would bother Ella and then Ella would push or hit Kate.  I can already tell having two girls is going to be a challenge.


Boarding started at 11:50 and they got to our group really quickly.  We boarded a little after 12:00.


Because they are sooo expensive we do not plan on buying any of the Shutters photos so we skipped the pictures they were taking as you board.  This great view from the gangway had us all excited!



As we walked onto the ship they had a cast member with a microphone who welcomed the Selph family and tons of cast members standing around clapping.  Kate was thrilled to see Ariel in the atrium.


We went straight to guest services to get tickets for the Princess tea party.  These are free but they only have two of them so the tickets go really quickly.  They gave me an option of our first or last sea day.  I picked the last and we were ready for lunch!  The kids loved looking out the windows at the water.  Seriously if there was a window Kate was either looking out of it or climbing up on it.


No idea what this is about but this expression pretty much describes her usual attitude.  Her favorite phrase these days is “I know.”  Even if she asks you a question when you answer she will say “I know.”


We went to Parrot Cay for lunch.  The two restaurants open both were serving the same buffet but we chose the one where we had a waiter thinking that would be a bit easier with the kids.


Kate and I went through the line first and got food for us and Ella then John went through to get his food.


There wasn’t much at all on the buffet I could eat.  I pretty much just ate some fruit. Kate loved that they had make your own sundaes though.  When we left the line for Parrot Cay was really long so I was glad we got there early.  We went up to the pool deck to Pluto’s Dog House and asked if they had any gluten-free chicken strips.  They said they couldn’t make them but to ask in the Beach Blanket Buffet.


I went to Beach Blanket and waited while they got the head server for me.


He said the chicken would take a long time but got this gluten-free strawberry mousse for me out of the kitchen.


We sat outside on deck and just enjoyed being on the ship until 1:30 when our rooms were supposed to be ready.


We were in room 5016 and this was our hallway.  Our room was located pretty far forward but really it didn’t take that long to get to the aft drink stations, restaurants, and pools.


Our room had this great Pirates of the Caribbean art on the wall.  This is my favorite guy from the ride so I loved looking at it every day.


We tried to get the kids to take a nap but they just kept playing with each other so we gave up and went to the Oceaneer’s Club open house.


Since we had registered Kate online all they had to do was get a band for her so I’m really glad we skipped that long line earlier.  They have to wear the bands anytime you drop them off in the club because they have a tracking device in them that will tell them where you child is.  We let Ella and Kate play and explore for a while then went to open house at the nursery until they closed at 3:00.



After the clubs closed we grabbed Ella some milk from the drink station then went to the muster drill.  Our station was in the Walt Disney Theater so we got to sit and listen in comfortable chairs unlike those poor guys out on deck.


When they let us out of the drill we grabbed a table for the sail away party.


A cast member passed out red, white, and blue pom poms which both of the girls loved waving around.




They introduced the workers from the Oceaneer’s club.

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Our cruise director Natalie

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Once the characters came out Ella and I watched on the big screen but Kate wanted on John’s shoulders so she could see them better.


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The sail away was an exciting way to start the trip.  It grew boring for Ella pretty quickly but Kate loved it.  When we left the party and got in line to meet Mickey and Minnie at 5:00 in the atrium.


Kate of course adores characters.  Her favorite part of any Disney trip.


Ella didn’t want much to do with Mickey.  This picture doesn’t really show it but she was not happy to meet him.



Kate looking out of the window again.  We could definitely feel the boat moving.  None of us got sea sick and in fact none of us even got nauseous but it was something you had to get used to because it did feel different.


Ella fell asleep in my arms while waiting for Minnie so she did not get to meet her this time.



We had early dining so as soon as we met Minnie we went to Tritons for our 5:45 dinner.  Our server was Andrei and our assistant server was Antonio.  They brought me gluten-free rolls and everyone else regular bread.  All the appetizers either had seafood or gluten so I skipped those and of course John didn’t see one he was interested in.   I did order the chilled vichyssoise soup (potato and leek).


The way they do dinners they bring the kids food when they bring the adult appetizers.  Even if you skip appetizers the kitchen wasn’t serving entrees yet.  Kate had chicken strips and Ella had cheese pizza but they were pretty much done with their food by the time we got our entrees.  John and I both ordered steak so we ate that quickly because the kids we so exhausted and their behavior was quickly deteriorating.  John, Kate, and I ordered Mickey bars for dessert and Ella ordered chocolate pudding.  They also brought me out a creme brulee because it was their gluten-free dessert for the day.  Ella didn’t really care for her pudding because the chocolate was so dark so she ended up eating most of my creme brulee.


After she finished her mickey bar John ran Kate to the kids club because I was having to wait to preorder the next days food with the head waiter Roy.  We went to our room, got Ella to sleep, unpacked our bags, then went to pick up Kate.  After the kids were in bed John tried to order my chicken strips from room service but they told him they can only do those while the dining room was open so he ordered a gluten-free cheese pizza instead.  It was about an 8 inch pizza and the only toppings they had were cheese and pepperoni.  It was very good though while it was hot but one of those gluten-free things that don’t taste very good when they cool off.  We were just happy for the option though.  This was a fun but super long day with the kids having no real naps and we were all glad to be in bed!


Today is the day we finally leave for our Disney Cruise!  Our original plans were to get up and head out super early so we could spend the day with Jennifer and Adam in Houston.  A few days ago Jennifer told us she was coming to visit her parents for the week and asked if we could give her a ride back to Houston when we headed that way.  This was a much better plan because we wouldn’t have to leave quite so early and we would be spending all day with Jennifer!  We got the car all loaded, ran some errands, and picked Jennifer up a little before 9:30.



We stopped on the way out of town at L-3 for me to get my free flu shot (which I’m really hoping doesn’t make me sick this week!) and were on the long road to Houston by 10.  We knew we wanted to have lunch before we hit that long stretch with no stops.  There weren’t a lot of options but saw a Dairy Queen listed on the GPS.  We all agreed to that but when we pulled up it was closed!  Since we had already exited we just drove over to Taco Bell but John started complaining about that so we just got back on the interstate.  Not too far up the road in Fairfield we found another Dairy Queen and everyone was happy again.  Kate got a chocolate covered ice cream treat and while it wasn’t a mickey bar she enjoyed it.


I had warned Jennifer about that road trips with us can be horrific.  Kate will have to stop and potty a thousand times and Ella will start screaming after an hour in the car. They did so so good today.  No fussing and we only stopped twice.  We are going to have to start taking Jennifer with us every where we go.  When we got to Houston Jennifer took us to a gluten-free bakery I had seen online.  It wasn’t really much of a bakery and in fact mainly just re-sold products they have at Walmart.  They did have some baked goods so I bought a loaf of cranberry orange bread and it was pretty good.  On our way to the bakery we passed this exit.


After our bakery adventure we went to Jennifer and Adam’s new place.  It was a really nice place and had tons of room.  After the long car ride the kids loved getting out, running around, and making a mess (sorry Jennifer!)  It was a really fun night with awesome birthday presents and the best gluten free pizza I have ever had.  We ordered Pink’s Pizza for supper and Jennifer and I shared the Southwest.  It had BBQ chicken on it and was soooo good.


We left their house a little before 8 and drove to our hotel room in Galveston.  We went back and forth on staying in Houston vs staying in Galveston.  We didn’t have a specific hotel preference we just wanted somewhere safe and clean so we had been watching priceline/hotwire for good rates.  We initially wanted to stay in Houston because we knew it would be their bedtime by when we left Jennifer’s and we would have plenty of time to get to the port the next morning.  Ultimately though we found a really good rate on the Inn at the Waterpark in Galveston that was recommended by several people on the Disney forums so we booked it and avoided the risk of bidding on an unknown room.  We were in the newer part so we had two queen beds.  It was nothing extraordinary but it was nice and clean and we were ready for bed!


I love my Granny.  We have been helping her clean out her garage and we found boxes like this.  She writes what is in box as well as where it came from and any stories to go along with it.  IMG_2038

Happy Birthday Granny

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Visit from Grandpa

Since my dad is gone this month and not using his house John’s dad came to visit and is staying at dad’s so he can have a bed.  We have jokingly started calling it our guest house.  Of course Kate was able to talk Grandpa into some Sweet Frogs.


Words I never thought I would hear from my brother: “there was a really good episode of murder she wrote on last night.” And “I’ve got to stop watching matlock I’m not getting any sleep.”

Independence Day Fun

This morning we went to our friends house to watch the 4th of July parade.  Kate had so much fun waving her flag and visiting with her friends.



This evening we went to Rockwall to watch their fireworks with Lake Pointe friends.  It was a pretty spectacular display!


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