Girl Scout Cookies cases boxes Lemonades Thanks-A-lot Thin Mints Caramel deLites

It’s Cookie Season, Y’all! 

The call of Thin Mints can be heard in front of every super market, pharmacy and local coffee spot. When I signed Miss O up to be a Girl Scout Daisy I knew cookie sales was part of the deal, but I had no idea how big of a deal it would be.

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Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Princess Storybook Breakfast Character Disney World Epcot Norway

Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus

Character meals are an iconic part of a Disney vacation, and for good reason. They are efficient, allowing the characters to come to you while you eat saving you the agony of waiting in lines, and you get some pretty good return on investment for your time and money, with multiple characters, food and beverage all at one event. I wasn’t sure Miss O would want to meet any characters, let alone the four or five we’d meet at any given event. The trip was still a surprise at that point, so I couldn’t risk asking her and somehow revealing the trip early. Nevertheless, something inside me said this needed to be part of her first trip to Disney World, so I took a chance and added a character meal to our wishlist.

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grateful heart thankful ornament appreciation

Pausing to Give Thanks

Thanksgiving in my family is a big, boisterous, event, filled with reunions, wisecracks and food. So. Much. Food. It’s a time when I can feel how loved I am and, more so now than ever, how lucky I am. As I grow older, or, as I’d like to think, more mature, I am increasingly more cognizant of the need to reflect on what I am truly thankful for. We’ve never been the type of family that goes around the table saying what we’re thankful for, but I feel the pull of announcing it. A verbal, or in this case, written declaration of the appreciation for what we have and who we love it a very reassuring practice. And so, it is in that spirit I offer my thanks now.

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Walt Disney World Disney Springs Shopping Dining

Discovering Disney Springs

For our first family trip to Disney, we were lucky to get non-stop flights from Boston to Orlando at pretty reasonable times. That meant we could have breakfast and surprise Miss O with the trip in the morning and be on Disney property by that afternoon. It also meant we could spend most of Saturday doing Disney things before our flight left. It did not mean we would have enough time or energy for a park on either day and didn’t want to waste a park ticket on a partial day. This is where Disney Springs, a big open-air mall area with dining, shopping and entertainment becomes and excellent, ticket-free place to spend time.

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Mickey's Not So Scray Halloween Party Mickey Pumpkin Jack o Lantern

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2018

When you’re planning a Disney trip, it may get to the point where you simultaneously want to spend money on all the things that will make your family smile regardless of price and feel like you’re suddenly faced with spending money you may never have. Coming from New England, we were definitely in that place by the time we discovered that Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party starts in August and had not one, but two dates scheduled for the last week of August when we’d be there for our first trip with our family. I knew Miss O would love every second of it, but would it be worth the extra cost on top of our park hopper tickets?

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Sunrise Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Railroad Main Gate

Finding the Magic in the Magic Kingdom – Day 2

I was worried the fifth day of our trip would be a struggle. After four full days, with one each at Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios, I was concerned we’d be too tired for another day at Magic Kingdom, especially since we had tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that night, too. We only visited one half of the Magic Kingdom on our first day, and I couldn’t leave without Miss O experiencing the other half. I knew she was having fun, but our tired was starting to show and I wasn’t sure she’d make it.

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Slinky Dog Dash Toy Story Land Hollywood Studios Disney World Roller Coaster

How long at Hollywood Studios?

I’ll admit when we first decided to include a day at Hollywood Studios in our park plans, I wasn’t convinced we needed an entire day for it. In the past, MGM, as it used to be called, really seemed more like a half-day park. There have been quite a few changes since those days and I wasn’t sure if those changes, and the addition of Toy Story Land, would make that much of a difference.

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