Wednesday, September 14, 2016

livin' it up - part 1

I'm not sure where to even begin! The past few months, or the heart of our summer, was beyond busy! We had two big trips with lots of other fun little activities packed in between. Before getting to that we need to go all the way back to the 4th of July! The holiday weekend started with a trip to the zoo. It's hard to find a day in July where the weather isn't so unbearable that you don't even want to be outside, but this July wasn't too bad. We love our zoo!

We capped off a fun 4th of July weekend with a cookout with our friends, The Douglasses. Olivia's friend Aleah stayed over the night before so we just headed over to her house for a fun day of swimming, good eats and good laughs. It was a fun 4th!

In mid-July it was time for the first of our big summer trips. We were headed to Orlando, Florida for Olivia's national dance competition. I have to admit that initially I was not thrilled about the idea of going to Florida in July....ugh, hot! But once we got there all of that was forgotten due to the crazy amount of fun we had! But first,we had to drive there! Yes, for the first time ever we took a long road trip in the car...a 17 hour road trip to be exact! It was rough, but once we arrived, we were in heaven!

Some family friends were kind enough to give us their time share for the week at a very reasonable cost. The competition was taking place at The Contemporary resort on Disney property, but we stayed at a beautiful Marriott resort about 15 minutes away .Within seconds of arriving we had our suits on and we were at one of the many pools on the property. Things were off to a great start!

We had a couple of free days before the dancing was set to begin, and there was lots we wanted to cram into that time. For our first night we explored the area near our resort. We enjoyed a night on the town, just checking things out.

The next morning we were up and at it bright and early. It was Disney time! Our first day was spent at Magic Kingdom and there was lot of fun to be had! There is a reason it is called the Magic just feels magical the second you walk in!

We were on a mission to do as many rides as possible on this day and boy, we worked hard to accomplish that. The last time we were at Disney, Olivia was 6 and Cece was just a baby. She obviously does not remember much and didn't get to do much during that visit, so we wanted her to experience all of the things we enjoyed so much the first time around. Her face said it all...she was having a blast! Olivia remembered many things, but enjoyed it all just as much this time around.

It was quite hot, but all of the fun we were having helped to take our minds off of the heat...well, a little bit anyway. One of the highlights of going to Disney is always meetings the characters. We met a lot of characters during our whirl wind day. From Minnie Mouse to Daisy Duck to Princess Tiana, Rapunzel, Goofy and Donald. The girls were thrilled with each character they met. The rides are such fun, but seeing the girls faces when they meet some of their favorite Disney characters is even better!

That evening we had special dinner plans...a Cinderella themed meal! We were all exhausted from our day but spending dinner time with Cinderella, her step-sisters and her evil step mother helped to perk us all up! The girls were thrilled when the characters made their way to our table...especially one of the evil step sisters!

We thought this would be the end of our very long day at the Magic Kingdom, but we convinced the girls to head back to see the castle at night and catch the fireworks. Since we were there why not go on a few more rides too? We finally hit a wall and decided to call it a night. Cece just couldn't do any more Disney that day!

The next morning we were at it again. This time at we spent the day at Hollywood Studios. As if we did not have enough fun the day before, we managed to pack a ton of fun things in day #2 as well.

Within minutes of walking into the park Cecilia spotted two of her favorite characters that she just had to meet...Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins. She could hardly contain her excitement as she waited for her turn to give them a hug.

There were many highlights from the day, but the biggest one for the girls was probably the Beauty and the Beast show. We saw this show last time we visited Disney and Olivia even got to meet some of the characters afterwards. Cecilia was back at the hotel with Nana, so she missed it. There was no special treatment this time around, but Cecilia was with us and the girls loved it!

We were able to meet more characters throughout our day too. This time the girls got warm hugs from Olaf, another chance to see Minnie and last but not least...good ole' Mickey Mouse! Getting the chance to meet some of our favorites made our visit extra special!

The rest of our day was full of fun rides, great shows and some super cool experiences! Cecilia even rode the Tower of Terror! I have two girls that love rides and roller coasters...dare devils! We had an amazing two days at the Disney parks! I wish we could have made it to all of the parks, but it was time to dance!

After two crazy fun days at Disney it was time to get down to business. Olivia had two dances on the first day of competition...her hip-hop and jazz dances. The girls were so excited for their first national competition. The competition was tough, but the girls performed really well and received High Gold awards!

Day two was a breeze with only her tap dance. They performed early and had a long break before awards so the girls met up at the pool during the break. I know the girls love dancing and performing, but more than that they enjoy spending time with each other.

After some down time at the pool the girls came back in time to find out that they earned a Platinum for their tap routine, which is the highest award that you can win. The girls were beyond thrilled. The trophy was huge and they were all excited to have their picture taken with it and their wonderful tap teacher, Ms. Beth. These girls worked hard and deserved this award!

That night we explored Downtown Disney. It's a huge shopping area with tons of restaurants and fun things for kids. It was a nice break from the dancing!

On the last day of competition Olivia had all 3 of her production numbers to perform. Jazz Production was up first...Business Class! Love these girls in her costumes and briefcases! They performed this dance so well!

Next was Tap Production which was a Disney princess themed dance. Olivia was one of the 7 dwarfs...Grumpy, to be exact. I knew the judges would enjoy this number since we were at Disney World!

Finally there was our general production...Aladdin, which was another Disney themed dance. We went all out with the costumes for this dance and the kids performed to the fullest!

All of our productions looked great on stage! The highlight of the final award ceremony was having "Business Class" taking 1st place and the title of National Champs! The girls were so thrilled. I was proud of Olivia for handling her first national dance competition like a pro!

With the dance competition officially over and our time at Disney coming to an end, we spent our final night just relaxing at our resort. A final dip in the pool and a stroll around the property before waking up and beginning the long drive home. 

It was a fun and magical week! Olivia danced her heart out and came home with lots of awards. Most importantly...she had a great time with her family and dance buddies, creating amazing memories! Till next time Disney!

Our summer activities picked right back up when we got home. Within a few days she was attending her best friend's birthday party. Aleah and her family were kind enough to be sure Olivia would be home for the party. She would have been devastated to miss it. 

Olivia's summer of fun with her friend, Aleah continued as they attended a show choir camp together. They did this camp last year and had a blast. This year they not only learned a song and dance routine, but also did a little acting as well. It was fun to see what they had worked on during their performance at the end of the week. 

A summer is not complete without a visit to the TinCaps, our local baseball team. Games are so fun and the girls just love relaxing in our lawn seats and searching for Johnny. Cecilia loves the TinCap mascot, Johnny. She looked for him all night and was bummed when she could not find him. As we were we leaving she spotted Johnny and made a mad dash right for him. Evening complete!

We were getting ready for our second trip of the summer, but first Olivia got to enjoy her birthday present from her best friend, Aleah. Last November Aleah gave Olivia tickets to see Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato in concert. She had to wait awhile to see the concert, but that did not squash her level of excitement. Aleah's mom was kind enough to take the girls to Indianapolis for the night which made it even more special. Dinner first, then off to the concert!

The highlight of the night...they got their seats upgraded! Instead of sitting way up at the top, they got to sit super close to the stage. The girls were thrilled! Almost as thrilled as they were with their super expensive concert t-shirts! The show was amazing and they a great time! 

The next morning, before heading home they hit the pool. I think this birthday present was one of her more memorable ones, and definitely worth the wait. These two have such a special friendship and have had some super fun times together this summer!

Ok. Time to take a breather. Lots more to share, but this has been quite a long post. Who knew our summer would be packed with so much excitement!