Tag Archives: Disney

Disney Magic!



The winds of change are coming to Patchwork Farm. As our state slowly moves from red to yellow, normalcy (under strict mitigation) is returning. This week work at the daycare resumes for Grace. Graduation is a week away for Rusty and Braden. Molly will be leaving us in seven days to head to Salt Lake City to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the next 16 months. Grace and Zach spent the weekend moving back to their little apartment, after living at Patchwork Farm for the last 9 weeks during quarantine. With all these changes coming down the pike, we have been working hard to create pockets of fun and memory-making opportunities before everyone scatters.

One way we have done this is through themed dinner nights. Gracie had the idea of having a Disney dinner night, an idea that our Disney-loving family jumped at!

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This was probably our most extensive themed dinner yet. This Disney-loving family had lots of ideas, and our inability to edit ourselves meant we incorporated


This themed dinner took a day’s worth of effort as we spent all of last Wednesday shopping for groceries, decorating, cooking, and creating.

Our efforts began in the dining room as we transformed the space into a tribute to all things Disney, incorporating many decorations from Rusty’s room!

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Then we started cooking. Our meal was a hodgepodge of Disney-themed dishes.

Grace took on the task of creating corresponding food tags for each of our side dishes. Using water colors, she captured the Disney film represented by each dish.

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While she painted, Rusty and Molly helped me cook.

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Some of our culinary nods to classic Disney films included:

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Our main dish was Toy Story’s Pizza Planet Pizza. We made the pizza dough ahead of time. When Toby and Zach arrived home from work everyone was sent to their rooms to dress for dinner. Everyone was instructed that they were to arrive at dinner Disney-bounding as a character from a Disney movie or ride.

Many of our outfits paid tribute to Toy Story…

With Molly representing Woody:

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Tyler dressed as a Pizza Planet delivery boy:

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And Toby and I as Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head:

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Rusty came to dinner Disney-bounding as Brer Fox from Splash Mountain:

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Others came to dinner dressed not as a particular character, but instead sporting Disney gear.

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Then it was time to make our personal pizzas. Everyone got a ball of homemade pizza dough that Grace had mixed ahead of time, and plenty of toppings to pick from. The kids enjoyed getting to create their own culinary masterpiece.

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As the pizzas baked everyone headed into the dining room to check out the other goodies,

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Including character cupcakes for each family member.


When the pizzas were done baking everyone dished up and headed to the dining room where we enjoyed a delicious dinner paired with Disney music and Disney movie trivia.

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We REALLY loved “The Grey Stuff!” Here is the recipe we used if you’d like to try it yourself…YUM!

grey stuff


  • 1 1/2 cups of cold whole milk
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package of instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 15 chocolate cookie sandwiches (Oreos)
  • Food processor
  • 1 (8 ounce) container whipped topping, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons instant chocolate pudding mix
  • Edible sugar pearls
  • Directions

    1. Pour milk into a large mixing bowl. Add instant vanilla pudding mix and whisk for 2 minutes until smooth and slightly thickened. Place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, until firm.

    2. Place chocolate sandwich cookies in food processor and pulse until pureed.

    3. Fold pureed cookies into pudding mix. Stir until fully mixed.

    4. Add whipped topping and instant chocolate pudding. Stir until fully mixed.

    5. Place in refrigerator and chill for one hour.

    6. Spoon grey stuff into piping bag fitted with desired tip. Pipe grey stuff into cups. Top with sugar pearls.

    7. Enjoy your very own grey stuff, because as Lumiere says, “It’s delicious!”

It was a “magical” night!

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“May the Fourth be with you”


Our second themed dinner took place on May 4th.


Embracing our inner Jedi, we planned a “May the Fourth be with You” dinner.

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After a few hard days we were  in need of some light hearted fun. Grace and I took the lead for this family fun night since the boys were busy with school and Toby, Zach and Molly were back at work.

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The dinner preparations began with the menu. Relying on Pinterest for inspiration, we came up with an easy menu, using food already on hand, and molded it to our theme using catchy names.

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Once the menu was decided we started on decorations…

Grace used her artistic talents to turn leftover gold plates into C-3PO,

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And we rolled green napkins into lightsabers.

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We also created lightsabers for each guest using water cannons and duct tape. Our original plan was to have a water gun fight after dinner using the “lightsabers,” but cold temperatures and biting wind changed our minds. We decided to save that fun for another day.

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When the work crew was nearing home, Grace and I began getting dinner ready. By the time they walked through the door the Hans-burgers were grilled,

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The Yoda Soda was poured,

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And we were ready for our “May the Fourth be with You” party.

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Our efforts were appreciated and everyone enjoyed our Jedi dinner.

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We ended the evening by watching the first three episodes of Star Wars: The Mandalorian on Disney+.




Walt Disney’s Hometown


After two weeks of slowing drawing out the recounting of our trip across the country to drop Miss Molly off at school, I write the final installment. It has been crazy busy at Patchwork Farm…as you can well imagine…and the task of finding stolen moments to blog has been especially challenging. We find ourselves neck-deep in wedding preparations, back to school busyness, and the craziness of large-family living, but I wanted to share our last road trip adventure before flakes of snow begin to fall and another month or two escapes me…

Back in 2016, as part of our epic six week bus trip around the country we made a special stop for Rusty’s 15th birthday. Per his request, we stopped in Marceline, Missouri to pay homage to Rusty’s personal hero, Walt Disney, and it was the highlight of the trip for Rusty!



Three years later, as we worked our way back across the country, passing through Missouri on our way home, Rusty asked if we could visit Walt Disney’s hometown once again. So we did…

This time with Braden!


The United States has three permanent museums devoted to Walt Disney. Each is terrific in a different way. In San Francisco, the Walt Disney Family Museum is the most spectacular—a real “E” ticket. In Central Florida, Walt Disney, One Man’s Dream, a “must see” attraction for Disney fans at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is the most convenient to visit—at least if you’re a Walt Disney World guest. And somewhere near the center of the continental United States, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum is the most personal.

We drove into Marceline, Missouri (pop. 2230) on Tuesday morning, reacquainting ourselves with this small Midwestern town that seems trapped in time, looking much as it might have when Walt was a young boy walking down Main Street with his mother.


While there we drove over to Walt Disney’s childhood home.


Walt’s family came to Marceline when Walt was only 4 years old. They moved from Chicago in an attempt to keep Walt’s older teenage brothers out of trouble and live a simpler life on the family farm.

Walt’s father purchased a plot of land from his brother who owned land in Marceline and they proceeded to build a home and establish themselves in this small, Missouri town.

Walt lived here from age 5 to age 9. While not a long period of time, it was a time that greatly affected his life.

Behind this home sits another important part of Walt’s time in Marceline. This area is opened to the public. Just past Walt’s childhood home sits a small parking area with this sign:

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It was down a grassy path that we found Walt’s Dreaming Tree.

. Daydreaming under this tree, a young Walt would observe the nature surrounding him. He later called these adventures “belly botany” and drew from these moments in his early works. He apparently never outgrew his need for inspiration from his favorite spot. On trips back to Marceline, Walt always put aside time for reflection beneath it, spending hours alone with his thoughts, back under his Dreaming Tree.

The Original Dreaming Tree, the place where Walt sat as a boy and let his imagination take him on incredible adventures, was hit by lightning a few years ago.

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Instead we visited the Son of the Dreaming Tree, a sapling planted from a seedling of the original Dreaming Tree with soil brought from Disneyland and water from Disney World.

As we walked along the grassy path to Walt’s barn, we passed signs that gave us even more insight into Walt’s childhood there and the significance it had in his later life.

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In the barn, also known as Walt’s Happy Place, visitors are encouraged to sign the walls and leave messages of love and hope.

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By his own account, Walt’s happiest childhood memories were of his time in Marceline and the family farm there. Walt and his sister Ruth spent many happy hours playing in the Barn. Visitors from all over the world have come to Marceline to spend time at “Walt’s Happy Place”, located in its original place on the Disney family’s old farm in Marceline.
Visit this very special Barn, which was rebuilt by volunteers in 2001, and leave your mark among the thousands of signatures, messages and memories already there to share with the rest of the world. There’s no doubt about it, when you come to this Barn, you’ll feel a special heart connection to Walt.

When we visited the barn during our first trip, we found it incredibly moving to read the words of previous visitors, and witness the profound effect this humble, inspiring man has had on so many lives.

What a joy it was to add our own names to the thousands of admirers that had been there before us…

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Rusty adding a new signature to the mark he left in 2016.

And what a joy it was to reflect on that experience as we sought out our previous signatures from three years prior.

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And then Braden added his name to the barn beams.

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From there we headed to the Walt Disney Hometown Museum.

The visit to the museum began with a guided tour of the first floor, where the volunteer (who was a personal friend of Walt Disney) walked us through the story of Walt’s life in Marceline, beginning with his childhood in Marceline and ending with his visits back when he was an adult.

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The museum is housed in the town’s old train depot…


A fitting location for Walt’s museum since he was an avid fan of trains his entire life. In fact one associate said, “Walt got more joy from hearing the sound of a train whistle than he did from an arm full of Oscars.”


In the museum there are 3,000 artifacts from Walt’s life,

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The elementary school desk where he carved his initials “WD”:

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A car from the Autopia ride he had built in Marceline for the children of the town:

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The audio recording he made from the interview he did with his parents at their 50th anniversary party:


The Mickey Mouse dolls that were a gift to his parents on that anniversary:

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And the TV he bought for his sister, Ruth.

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When he invited Ruth to the opening of Disneyland she informed him that she didn’t like crowds, so he purchased a TV for her so that she could watch the opening ceremonies from the comfort of her own home:

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The first floor of the museum is filled with Disney movie memorabilia, hand written letters by Walt, receipts, and other family heirlooms. It really is a treasure for Disney fans!

The second floor of the museum contains:

A replica of Walt’s front porch and the story of him convincing his younger sister to paint the house with tar,


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A piece of the original Dreaming Tree,

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And a miniature model of Disneyland.

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Marceline, Missouri…the birthplace of Disney Magic.

I’m so glad we could visit again!


Pandora: The World of Avatar


Of all the Disney parks, Animal Kingdom is my all-time favorite.

There is a different feel to this park than its sister parks. The lush vegetation, and hundreds of hidden trails that wind their way throughout the park, make visitors forget they are at an amusement park. There is so much I love about Animal Kingdom, but for this post I am going to focus on its newest area- Pandora.


All I can say is WOW.

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When I say that the World of Avatar is going to blow your mind, that is an understatement.

As we entered the park, we followed the hordes of visitors headed straight for Pandora. Everyone was eager to see what all the hype was about. This is what we discovered:

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As you enter Pandora: The World of Avatar, you will definitely notice that you have left the rest of Animal Kingdom behind and entered a whole new world. The first thing you will notice about this new environment is the floating mountains.

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After marveling at these gravity-defying beauties, you will notice the lush plant life that surrounds you.

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The creators did a wonderful job of mixing real plants with ones that would exist on the planet of Pandora.

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 At times, it is difficult to determine which plants are real and which ones are make-believe.

Pandora the World of Avatar has the most beautiful walking areas I have seen at Walt Disney World.

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Everywhere you turn is a perfect shot filled with bioluminescence plants and animals.

In typical Disney fashion, you will discover entertainment throughout the land. The Pandora drummers establish a lively feel in the area as they delight the crowds with their festive sets, and kids and adults alike will be amazed by the researcher operating the 10-foot-tall Pandora Utility Suit.

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But the best part of Pandora World of Avatar at the Animal Kingdom…the one thing that actually left me breathless…the Avatar Flight of Passage ride!

It reminded me a lot of Soarin’ at Epcot, but was far more astonishing, stunning, and breathtaking!

The ride takes visitors through an elaborate queue which sets up the backstory of the ride, before you mount a motorcycle-like ride vehicle to take a flight on the back of a banshee.


All of your five senses will come alive while experiencing Avatar Flight of Passage. If you have seen the movie, then imagine riding on the back of a banshee flying over the mountains, rivers, and of course, the Great Leonopteryx just like the Na’vi did in the James Cameron movie.


Hands down the best ride I have ever been on!!


We weren’t the only ones who felt that way. It is, by far, the most popular ride at any of the Disney parks, boating an average waiting time of 3-4 hours on the day we went. Luckily, we had a fast pass that allowed us to walk right on.

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Now onto the second ride at Pandora. This is where you really get to experience the Na’vi culture and sit back for a chance to be a part of it all. On the Na’vi River Journey you will float down the sacred river deep into the bioluminescent rainforest where the Na’vi live.


The landscape comes alive with creatures, plants, and even the Na’vi themselves. This is the perfect ride to take it all in. Listen carefully and you just might hear an Avatar calling!

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One of our favorite parts of the Pandora experience, however, was simply strolling around this area and soaking in the environment. Disney truly has created a world that is fully immersive and makes you forget where you really are.

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The pictures are a poor representation of the depth and details of Pandora’s beauty.

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We returned to this area once again after dark to experience Pandora a night. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more magical, we walked into this:

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At nighttime all the flora and crystals that adorn the vegetation are lit, creating a bioluminescent world that glows. Even the pathways have been marked with imprints of ferns and foliage that glow in the dark as well.

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It is magical and will take your breath away!

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When Disney added Pandora: World of Avatar to Animal Kingdom, they truly created an out-of-this-world experience fitting for this other worldly location. The immersive environment will transport you to a place you have never been before. Even if you are not a fan of the movie Avatar, you will be impressed by this new land…

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I know we were!

Hanging Out in Andy’s Backyard


Day 2 of our Disney adventure was spent at Hollywood Studios. The excitement was palpable, as we prepared for the day, because we were off to play in Andy’s backyard!!

 Toy Story Land is the latest addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and is stirring up quite the buzz, (Pun intended) and we couldn’t wait to check it out!

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We were not disappointed.

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From the moment we walked in, we realized this land is like no other! It felt a little like the immersion we experienced when we entered Cars Land on our visit to Disneyland. You literally feel as though you have entered the Toy Story movie!

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It’s a bright, cheery, fun and a fantastic representation of what it would be like to be one of Andy’s Toys.

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The goal in the design of Toy Story Land is to make those who visit feel as if they are a size of a toy, in Andy’s back yard. As we took a look around, we loved all the special touches and attention to detail.

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 It was fun just walking around this land to see all the extras.

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Disney didn’t leave anything out!

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In addition to simply strolling around Andy’s backyard and taking in all the magical touches, we also enjoyed riding the three rides found in Toy Story Land:

Alien Swirling Saucers

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“The cutest extraterrestrials in the galaxy have landed, and they’re taking you for a ride. Power up the saucers for an interstellar romp through space, while futuristic tunes set the mood.”

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This ride was a fun ride, that was less nausea inducing than say the tea cups in the Magic Kingdom. It reminded me of the classic ride that you see at pop up carnivals called the scrambler. The path that the cars make is a large looping one rather than a tight spinning motion.

Toy Story Mania

This fan favorite ride has gotten a face lift in the form of a new entrance to the ride within Toy Story Land and a 3rd track has been added to challenge veteran riders and…to make the line move more quickly. Zip through a virtual gallery of exciting carnival games based on the hit animated film series.

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Step inside Andy’s room and wind your way through a toy treasure chest of classic playthings. Pass a Candyland game box, Viewmaster discs, crayon drawings and a Scrabble board before picking up a pair of special 3D glasses for the fun to come.

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Climb aboard an early 20th-century-inspired Carnival Ride Tram and grab your spring-action shooter. With 3D glasses on, glide into the Toy Story Midway Games Play Set and take aim at stationary and moving 3D objects in a variety of fast-paced games.

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Slinky Dog Dash

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Andy’s assembled his Mega Coaster Play Kit—and Slinky Dog is gonna take you on a wild, toy-filled adventure.

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“Get a glimpse of everything Toy Story Land has to offer as you stretch Slinky Dog’s coils to the limit across Andy’s backyard! Come along for a roller-coaster-style ride as he bends and twists and stretches his way all throughout this new land.”

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This new roller coaster has made it firmly to the top of my favorite Disney ride list. Slinky Dog Dash is the perfect combo of tameness that you would expect for kids and thrills for the coaster lovers.

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For lunch we ate at Woody’s Lunch Box!

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The charming, nostalgic details we loved through this land continue in this quick service eatery.


Disney couldn’t have come up with a better idea for a restaurant located in Andy’s backyard. It’s as if Andy just dropped his lunchbox on his way home from school to play.

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The details don’t stop at the restaurant, of course.


The best part about Toy Story Land is that everywhere you look, every glance you take, you will notice some nod to the Toy Story movies, your childhood memories, or both.

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Take this area (above) within Woody’s Lunch Box seating area. You spy the Green Army Men looking out over the area keeping watch.

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For lunch some enjoyed the BBQ Brisket Melt – Sliced Smoked Brisket, Pickles and tangy BBQ Sauce between melted Cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheeses on Grilled Sourdough, while others chose the “Totchos” – Potato Barrels coated with Beef and Bean Chili, Shredded Cheese and signature Queso with Tomatoes and Corn Chips finished with Sour Cream and a sprinkle of Green Onions.

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The food was amazing! The only challenge at this eatery was the limited amount of tables. We lucked out! Be sure to take a close look at the some of the chairs in this area. They are made to look like a babybel cheese cut in half.

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We eventually pulled ourselves away from Andy’s backyard to enjoy the rest of the fun at Hollywood Studios (more on that in a future post) but then returned in the evening to experience Andy’s backyard at night.


All of the hanging strings of Christmas bulbs turn on at night, illuminating Andy’s backyard.


Having visiting Toy Story Land in both the day and the night time, there is something truly magical about seeing it in the evening.

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Whether visited in the day or enjoyed at night, Toy Story Land is AMAZING!

Casa de Disney


Ok, we have now arrived at our “permanent”  location for the remainder of our stay in Orlando.

On our two previous Disney World vacations we stayed onsite at Disney resorts: first at Port Orleans Riverside, and then at All Star Sport on our second trip. Both times we chose to stay onsite so that we could take advantage of the free Disney Dining that was being offered when we were visiting in September.

Unfortunately, this time our schedules did not align with Disney’s free dining dates, so our food bill will be higher this trip, but we were able to balance out that increased cost by choosing to stay offsite rather than renting two Disney World hotel rooms for the length of our stay.

A few months ago we went online to Airbnb and found an amazing deal on a four bedroom house for a fraction of the cost that two Disney resort rooms would be. With the house rental comes the added benefit of having a kitchen available to offset some of our food costs.

After a day of fun at Disney Springs we headed over to our rental home. Check-in was at 4:00 pm and the kids were itching to “move in,” unpack, and get swimming in the pool and hot tub that came with the house.

We pulled in, piled out of our “clown car,”

And untangled ourselves from blankets, charging cords, fast food wrappers and backpack straps.

The door was opened and the kids rushed inside, eager to check out the new digs and claim their rooms.

The house exceeded our expectations.

It is absolutely beautiful.

Check out our lovely new home that we have lovingly renamed, “Casa de Disney”:

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The view that greeted us when we walked into the rental.

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The kitchen and breakfast nook.


The family room. We love all the big, comfy couches.

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Brandon and Tyler’s bedroom.

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Rusty and Ozzie’s bedroom.

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Grace and Molly’s bedroom. They took the second master suite with its own attached bathroom.

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They were thrilled to get a girls’ only” bathroom. “Look, Mom,” they exclaimed with enthusiasm, ” There is enough room for us to do our make-up side by side!”

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The master suite…Ooo la la!

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Here is where I plan to spend my vacation.

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This is where the kids plan to spend their vacation…in our own personal pool.  Everyone is feeling spoiled by this new living arrangement. I may have a tough time getting everyone back home to Pennsylvania. 🙂

For now this is our home away from home…

And what a home it is!

Building Memories- Brick by Brick



I love the week that is nestled between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. It is a time of sweet respite after the frantic pace of December, still magical in its embrace of the Christmas season, but without any of the work or stress that comes with the first three weeks of December.

This year was especially cherished as Ozzie was home for a week, giving us five days at home to simply be a family without any of the typical time suckers like appointments, school, therapy or tutoring. All of our usual scheduled activities had been canceled for the week and the break from all the running was probably the best gift I received this Christmas season. We had two “PJ Days,” where no one even bothered getting dressed for the day. Clothed in warm PJs we snuggled on the couch in front of the fireplace watching the movies we received for Christmas, reading our new books, playing with our newest toys, and munching on snacks from our Christmas stockings.

Our living room became Lego Central as the boys spent the week putting together the multiple Lego sets they received for Christmas. Ozzie was in heaven. There is nothing he enjoys more than building with Legos.

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Rusty, too, was thrilled with his new sets. His one big gift this year was a Disney Castle Lego set. This set has been on his wish list for years but is absurdly expensive, so he had long since made peace with the fact it would probably never be his. For years I have been searching for this set at a discounted price and 10 months ago found a seller online selling one for a fraction of the price of other sellers. I jumped on it and have had this gift tucked away ever since, so excited to surprise Rusty with it.

His reaction when he unwrapped it made all the effort worth it.

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My Disney loving boy was over the moon.

By far the largest set Rusty has ever constructed, this 4000+ piece Lego set took Rusty three days of continuous building to complete it.

The kit held 30 different bags of Lego’s with each bag representing a different section of the castle.

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The instruction book was an inch think and held the instructions for the 758 steps needed to complete this massive set.


It was fun to watch the birth of the 2 ½ foot magical creation from a pile of Lego bricks into Cinderella’s castle.

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The set came with different Disney Lego characters,

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And as cool as the completed castle was from the front,

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the real magic was found within the walls of the castle.

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The back of the set revealed a dozen or more different rooms within the castle, each representing different Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog, Brave, and Cinderella.

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The finished completion is incredible and now sits in a place of honor on Rusty’s dresser.

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Isn’t it magical?!


Meeting Sabrina Carpenter


I earned myself some “Super Momma” points the other day. So often I find myself in a deficit, so when given the opportunity to earn some brownie points with my teenage daughter I jump at the chance.

That and when my Molly asks for something, which is a rare thing, I love being able to give back to this sweet girl who is always doing for others but rarely asks for anything in return.

Her request came in the form of gasping breaths when she raced into the room to excitedly announce that one of her favorite singers was having a free concert and meet-and-greet at a nearby mall on Tuesday.

“Do you think we can go?!” She asked with big, hopeful, Bambi eyes.

I asked for the details and promised we would try to make it happen, so after a crazy Tuesday morning of MOPS babysitting, errands, and the dentist, we drove over to Boardman, Ohio to see Sabrina Carpenter at Southern Park Mall.

Sabrina Carpenter is a singer/actor best known for her role on the Disney channel series “Girl Meets World.”

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Molly loves her music and received her CD for Christmas. For some reason, that I never quite figured out, she was making an appearance at this local mall to perform a few of her songs and greet her fans.

The proximity to home was ideal, and the price (free) couldn’t be better, so answering Molly’s request was easy.


We arrived and found a small group surrounding a stage that was set up in the middle of the Sears concourse. We had no problem getting a spot within reaching distance of Sabrina which made it all the more thrilling for Molly.


When Sabrina Carpenter arrived the girls pressed closer while the boys (who were incredibly good sports through the ordeal) “held up the wall” far behind the crowd.


She was incredibly talented and I could see why Molly was a fan.


Afterward fans were able to line up, greet her, and get their picture taken with her.

This was almost too much for Molly who was beside herself with excitement.


It was 2 hours of my life lost in a mall, (not how I would normally choose to spend a Tuesday) but seeing Molly’s face light up with joy made it the best two hours of my week!



Fandom Fun


Is there anything more thrilling than receiving a letter or a package in the mailbox, bearing your name? I sometimes feel like this novelty wears off as we enter adulthood and the anticipation of going to the mailbox is replaced with a sense of dread, but then unexpectedly you will find, sitting atop a pile of bills, a pretty pink envelope bearing your name in curvy script and those childhood feelings of delight return.

Kids love mail…at least mine do. Whether it is a letter from grandparents, a magazine subscription or catalog bearing their name, or even a college flyer, there is such thrill in knowing something in that metal mailbox is meant just for you.

This past week I have had two kids eagerly offering to make runs to the mailbox (located a mile away at the end of the road) to see if our mail carrier had arrived.

Both were anticipating packages and were as antsy and eager as a school girl waiting on a birthday invitation.

Both kids belong to monthly subscription “fandom” clubs. Gracie’s membership came as a Christmas gift from G.G., while Rusty has been picking up extra jobs here and there to fund his club membership. Both of their memberships involve receiving a monthly package packed full of their favorite goodies…and both their packages arrived this week.

Gracie’s package comes from the Fandom of the Month Club and contains a different themed fandom each month.

The fandoms range from Star Wars, to book series, to Disney movies. This month’s fandom revolved around “The Little Mermaid.”


In each fandom box subscribers receive the same sort of items each month but each month’s treats differ greatly depending on the theme. For instance, every month the box contains a postcard, magnet, and little zippered bag containing 3-4 pieces of jewelry reflective of that theme. This was this month’s Little Mermaid bag:


Here were all the surprises it contained:


Gracie was beside herself with glee.

Rusty’s subscription box also arrived. His subscription is through Gamer Block.IMG_1991

His subscription is similar in the sense it arrives monthly and contains surprises revolving around a center theme but Rusty’s themes are all video game related. His box each month contains a t-shirt, 2-3 additional video game themed gifts and a new release game for the computer.

Here are some of the goodies Rusty received in his fandom box:

This was Rusty’s first time ordering, and the fact he spent his own hard-earned dollars on it he was hoping he wouldn’t be disappointed…

And he wasn’t.

He too was thrilled by what he found in the box.

It is always nice to find that sort of mail in the mailbox!


This and That


Sometimes I find that the focus of my blog tends to revolve around the big news and events sprinkled throughout our weeks, but every now and then I feel compelled to pen a “catch up” sort of blog that shares more of the day to day happenings in our life. Since none of these small happenings justify an entire blog entry I tend to  lump them together in a “this and that” blog.  The big breakthrough sort of moments of life may determine the course of our journey but it is the small day to day happenings that are the building blocks of our life.

Here is a look into the day to day moments that make up our life:

We have taken this time of respite, while Ozzie is getting some much needed and effective therapy to address his history of trauma, to really focus on the needs of the other children. Part of our plan to reconnect and assess everyone’s wellbeing has been for Toby and I to schedule a one-on-one date with each of the kids so that they can share their hearts with us in an uninterrupted setting. It has been a blessing and good for everyone. We schedule our dates following a visit to see Ozzie. We have taken the kids to visit him one at a time so that they can have one on one time with Ozzie. This has been good for Ozzie as it encourages deeper attachment with each sibling individually, but also good for the kids to see where Ozzie is at and see the work he is doing. The experience has made them more understanding and empathetic of Ozzie’s struggles as they gain insight into the hurt and trauma behind the behaviors.

Following our visit with Ozzie, Toby and I take that child out on a special date to the restaurant of their choosing (something more financially feasible when you are paying for 3 meals as opposed to 7.) It has been fun to see what everyone’s picks have been. Molly chose Five Guys, Grace chose Chipotle, and Rusty chose Dynasty Chinese buffet. Tyler has his date night coming up and I suspect McDonalds is in our future.

As part of Gracie’s date we stopped so she could get her haircut. This task is significantly easier and more enjoyable without little brothers tagging along.

Here is her before and after:

The kids have been busy with school as their 3rd quarter comes to a close. Rusty has been studying DNA which means he had a fun assignment in science. His teacher sent all the students the candy and supplies for an online class to make DNA chains using sweet treats. I must say Rusty was even more engaged in the lesson than usual, knowing that at the completion of the lesson he would get to eat the “fruits of his labors.”

Grace is still involved in mural club, with Molly and Rusty joining her occasionally for a mural they are interested in learning to paint. Two weeks ago they were learning to paint roses. Grace decided to veer off from the teacher’s sample and create a stain glass version of a rose. (Can you see how excited she is for the new Beauty and the Beast movie that is going to be released soon?!) She was on a role and followed that art project with a craft project of her own by making the enchanted rose from the West Wing. Here are her finished projects:


This summer my three oldest kids will be going on Trek. Those that have been following our blog for a while will remember when Grace participated in a pioneer trek four years ago with other youth in our church. They spent 3 days trekking through the rolling hills of Virginia, pulling handcarts and cooking over a fire so as to gain an appreciation for the sacrifices made by the pioneers who trekked westward. This year Grace, Molly and Rusty will be able to experience this together and I am so thrilled for them!

A few Sundays ago we attended the kick-off fireside that inspired, instructed, and got the excitement going for this upcoming July event. Grace is on the youth committee that is helping adult leadership with the planning of the event and was given the responsibility of creating a short, fun video to help the youth get ideas of how to easily and inexpensively put together the outfits they will wear on trek.


She did a great job!

This Wednesday was a theme day at co-op. In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday we had Wacky Wednesday…and this is what the kids came up with. I think Rusty wins!


In preparation for Family Night Grace donned her apron to create a Disney World copycat recipe of raspberry macaroons. Yes, they were as delicious as they look!

For our family night message we had a lesson on the life of Job. As we read about Job’s trials and likened them to our own we were humbled by all he had to endure and how faithfully and graciously he endured them. It gave me cause for reflection as I considered my own earthly journey and the challenges in my life, which seem so shallow in comparison, but more striking was the comparison between how Job endured compared to the way I have endured certain seasons of life. It made me desire a deeper and more faithful relationship with my Heavenly Father so that I might handle the trials that come my way more humbly, graciously and faithfully.

This lesson was followed by a Pixar short entitled, “Paperman,” that led us into the hands-on portion of my lesson.


I began by giving everyone a sheet of paper and asked them to see who could make that flat piece of paper soar across the room. With much laughter and taunting we found none were able to get their flat piece of paper to travel more than a foot or two.


I asked what we could do to make our paper fly better, to which the kids suggested we fold them into paper airplanes.

Using some YouTube tutorials we created all sorts of magnificent paper airplanes.


We then lined up and tried again. This time those pieces of papers soared gracefully across the room.


I asked the kids what had changed.

They replied, “We had to fold it into the right shape so that it could fly.”

I then brought home the point of the lesson,

In order to fly, that untouched, pristine, piece of paper had to be bent, folded, and torn to be molded into an object that could soar above the pull of the world.

And so it is with us.

It is the trials and challenges that we live through that we learn the most from. An untouched piece of paper doesn’t fly, and life of ease doesn’t help us soar. We need the creases and the folds to fly, and we need to allow God to use the lessons we learn during those hard times to mold us into someone that soars beyond the pull of this world.

I prepared the lesson for my children, but it was I that really needed to be reminded of the truth. God is using this season of life to work mighty changes in me so that I might fly higher and closer to Him.