It's a Great Big Beautiful World! Let's Discover it Together

Showing posts with label Family Memories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family Memories. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Quality Resort Time and Family Fun

Coloring, scrapbooking, reading, and baking cookies. What a fun, relaxing kind of evening in the room, after a fun-filled day at the water park. As much as I love the theme parks, these trips where we don't go to them are so nice. Hanging out at the resort, lots of swimming, and enjoying some of the other wonders of Walt Disney World.

#makingmemories #familyvacations #itsthetimetogetherthatcounts

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ice's What's for Lunch!

When on vacation, it's what's for lunch. The Earthquake...Not for the faint of heart, it just a couple people. Serves up to 8. Your choice of 8 flavors and 8 toppings. (Not as sickening as the Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream, either.)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Take the Trip. Make the Memories While You Can.

When the kids are young, and often budgets are tight, it might not seem possible to be able to take vacations. At the moment it seems like they'll be small forever - but in reality, they'll be grown and gone before you know it. Stuff will always be waiting for you to buy. Time with the kids won't always be available. Take the trip. Make the memories while you can. I'd be honored to help you create some fantastic memories for your family in 2017 and beyond. 317.776.1733

Friday, August 5, 2016

Setting Out for the Last Frontier. Thinking of my Grandfather.

On this date many years ago - August 5th, 1979 - we got word that my grandpa died. He and my grandma were living in Alaska at the time so it had been quite a while since we had last seen them in person. They were teachers throughout their careers, and in retirement spent a couple of tours of duty as teachers in a missionary school in remote Unalakleet (west coast, south of Nome). That year I turned 9 but was only 8 still when he died. Of course, being so young I didn’t know him for the man he’d been most of his life, but I have some fantastic memories of the man that I knew him to be… kind, fun-loving, gentle, a great outdoorsman, avid fisherman, and a great teacher – he was my Papa Les. Some fun memories include going to their house in the woods of Oak Glen, riding on his motorcycle with him, sledding in the snow in winter down the hills, taking walks with him, and the teacher in him coming out as he shared what the different flora and fauna that we passed were.
I’m thrilled to be departing today for an Alaskan Seminar at Sea and no doubt will be thinking of him as we sail past some amazing flora and fauna. I fly to Vancouver this afternoon, and then board the ship tomorrow morning. My adventures during the week ahead will take me nowhere near where they lived all those years ago (opposite side of the state), but it’s a fun little connection back to a man I loved so much, and miss still all these years later.
While so much of the rest of Facebook is increasingly filled with negative political junk, my little corner of the neighborhood will be filled with a few pictures and maybe some video from a few beautiful places from God's creation over the next week. Come along with me virtually! I’m happy to share my adventures with you…

Monday, March 11, 2013

stopher's stuff - The Years Have Just Flown By

Today I not only say that another week has flown by, but I’ll say that another YEAR has flown by as well.  But not only that, this week marks the beginning of the end of a another DECADE as well.  What’s that all mean you say?  Well, tomorrow I get to mark a very special day with the one person in this life whom I love the most, and have spent the most intimate and quality time – my lovely bride. Tomorrow is our 19th wedding anniversary, and as such, we are closing out another great year together, but also embarking into the final year of our second decade together as a married couple. 
To my lovely bride...

It hardly seems possible though that it has already been 19 years since we made our vows, and then later enjoyed a cool party with many family and friends, before embarking out on our own to enjoy that all-important honeymoon period prior to officially “starting life”.  For many that honeymoon might be spent on a tropical island, or enjoying the art & culture of the “old world” in Europe.  For us, it was in a tropical location, and we did enjoy some “old world” charm, granted re-created charm, but charm none-the-less.   We honeymooned at Walt Disney World, and had a wonderful time.  It was my third visit to the Central Florida resort, and my lovely bride’s first.  And in those 19 years, a LOT has changed at my favorite Central Florida destination.  The resort of choice … The Grand Floridian Beach Resort as it was known back then (today it’s Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa). 
We married in March, because my lovely bride wanted a winterish wedding, without being in the actual midst of winter.  Had we known then that if we’d just waited about 2 more months we could have stayed at then brand-new Wilderness Lodge (known now as Disney’s Wilderness Lodge), we probably would have delayed it just a bit.  The Lodge is just about our favorite resort at all of Walt Disney World (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a close second).  That woodsy, Pacific Northwest feel is right up our alley thematically, and honestly, you just can’t beat the quiet, quaint ambiance that just exudes throughout the Lodge.  But we didn’t know back then that a) it was under construction, or b) that it was schedule for a grand opening in early May.  Back then the internet was still a relatively new phenomenon that hadn’t reached the masses yet.  Many of the very popular Disney fan sites weren’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eye yet, beside that - we didn’t even own our own computer yet! 

Since then the resort has added about 8 new resorts, added a water park, added the "West Side" to the Downtown Disney Area (then known as the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village), and added a theme park - plus a wide array of rides, attractions, shows, shopping & dining experiences, ticketing options, and so much more.  A LOT has changed. 

So yeah, a lot has changed in those 19 years, and not just at Walt Disney World.  Here are just a few fun facts from our life since we married 19 years ago:
  • we’ve lived in 3 states – California, Michigan and Indiana
  • we’ve belonged to 2 churches – North Orange Christian Church and White River Christian Church
  • we’ve grown our family by 3, having 2 sons and 1 daughter
  • we’ve watched all 3 grow too quickly… the eldest will be graduating high school about 2 ½ months after our 20th anniversary
  • we’ve owned 4 computers (the first was purchased a full year after we married), plus went through 4 different work-provided computers
  • we’ve each replaced a vehicle twice
  • we’ve each changed jobs twice
  • we've started 2 of our own businesses
  • we’ve lived in 4 different domiciles – 1 townhouse, 2 duplexes, and 1 house
  • we've added to our portfolio an investment home plus several vacation home options thanks to the Disney Vacation Club
  • we’ve had 3 different pets – 1 box turtle and 2 different cats (NOT my choice at all…I am allergic to and hate cats, but I love my wife and thus tolerate having a cat in the house for my wife’s sake)
  • we’ve used 8 different cell phones (only in the last 11 years though as we never had one prior to coming to Indiana) – 5 for me, and 3 for her
  • we’ve visited 24 states together (I’ve been to a lot more, but here I’m just referring to the two of us together)
  • we’ve enjoyed 6,935 days as a married couple or nearly 166,440 hours as a married couple or nearly 9,986,400 minutes as a married couple (though the hours and minutes are approximations based on total days)
  • we’ve had our ups and downs – but LOVE has been at the heart of our relationship in each of those years.
Until next time – make it a great week.  Do something positive for someone else.  Tell those special people in YOUR life how much they mean to you.   Celebrate the big and the little things.  I know I will.   

Friday, February 22, 2013

Flashback Friday - Disneyland 1966


Time to go back in time thanks to fun old family photos of days gone by.  Growing up in Southern California, Disneyland was a popular destination for our family.  Sometimes we were there just the four of us, other times with extended family members.  Oftentimes my brother and I would get to go for school or church incentives, or as awards for a successful sports season with the teams we played on.  Trips with friends, or friends families were often the case as well, and as we became teenagers, the park was a popular destination to hang out. 

Here's a look at Fantasyland in May 1966.  Standing in front of the Chicken of the Sea Restaurant is my grandmother (with light blue sweater on her shoulders) and my great-grandparents who were visiting CA from their home in Norway.  My mother and aunt were about to graduate from high school, and so they came over for an extended 2 month stay.  While in Southern California they also got to experience the San Diego Zoo, Knott's Berry Farm, Descanso Gardens, the Huntington Library and Gardens and many other local area attractions.  But Disneyland was definitely a favorite!  Sadly the "Chicken of the Sea" sailed off to "Yesterland" with the 1982-83 total redo of Fantasyland bringing about "New Fantasyland", but the memories of that fun little "Peter Pan" inspired restaurant lives on in old photos such as this one. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Featured Foto Friday - Kitchen Sink

The Kitchen Sink, found at Beaches and Cream at Disney's Beach Club Resort.  8 scoops of ice cream, every topping that they have, plus an entire can of whipped cream! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Flashback Friday - Disneyland 1958

Time to go back in time thanks to fun old family photos of days gone by.  Growing up in Southern California, Disneyland was the only Magic Kingdom that I knew as a kid.  It was, of course, the ONLY Magic Kingdom when my parents were kids.  My dad was almost a teenager when the park opened, becoming one just a couple of months later, and my mother was still in single digits at the time.  Walt Disney World and all of the other Disney Destinations were still decades in the future when they were young.  

As young girls, my grandparents treated their twin daughters - my mother and aunt (who are the young ladies in today's flashback photo) - treated them to a day at Disneyland each year for their birthday.  Previously we've looked at them on one of those trips in about 1957, here they are once again in 1958, this time standing on the bridge in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Flashback Friday - Disneyland 1976


Time to go back in time thanks to fun old family photos of days gone by.  Growing up in Southern California, Disneyland was a popular destination for our family.  Sometimes we were there just the four of us, other times with extended family members.  Oftentimes my brother and I would get to go for school or church incentives, or as awards for a successful sports season with the teams we played on.  Trips with friends, or friends families were often the case as well, and as we became teenagers, the park was a popular destination to hang out.  

Here's a look at July 1976 of my brother and I with Gideon, from Pinocchio.  Back in the day when there were more characters to be seen than the Princesses, the Fab Five, Pooh & Friends and a handful of Pixar favorites.  I miss those days because there were a lot more characters in the parks, and you were able to capture moments like this, with them just out and about working their way through the parks, instead of in a structured setting where you have to wait in a line for who knows who long just to have a moment with the character and get his/her autograph.  I realize the way that they do it now is designed to be "fairer" and give people a chance to see them, but gone are the impromptu moments like this where mom and dad tell their kids to run over and say hi to so and so and then snap a picture. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Flashback Friday - Disneyland 1957


Time to go back in time thanks to fun old family photos of days gone by.  Growing up in Southern California, Disneyland was the only Magic Kingdom that I knew as a kid.  It was, of course, the ONLY Magic Kingdom when my parents were kids.  My dad was almost a teenager when the park opened, becoming one just a couple of months later, and my mother was still in single-digits at the time.  Walt Disney World and all of the other Disney Destinations were still decades in the future when they were young.  

As a youth, I didn't get to go to Walt Disney World until I was 21, but have certainly enjoyed many, many visits there ever since.  But I remember not even knowing that Walt Disney World even existed until the early 1980's, when a friend of mine in Jr. High School made a trek to Florida to visit family for a family reunion.  When she got back, she regaled me with stories of the "other Disneyland".  I had no clue what she was talking about, and had to find out.  Soon enough I knew that there was indeed another Magic Kingdom out there, and even a second park called Epcot Center under construction.  With glee I watched the grand opening broadcast on television for Epcot and was enthralled.  I also learned about the then-under construction new Disneyland for Japan.  And again I was enthralled.  "MY" playground was expanding into other "neighborhoods" not just in another state, but then another country, around the world!  How cool was that!  

As the years went on, I remember trying so hard to convince my dad that we needed to make a trip to Florida to experience the "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" attraction - trying to play on his emotions towards his favorite Walt Disney film from his youth... sadly it never worked - he saw right through me, and just kept reminding me that Disneyland had terrific submarines that I could ride in anytime I was in the park.  What a great way to squash a young boy's dream.  ;-)  But I wouldn't be satisfied.  I learned a lot more about the Walt Disney World Resort, and even remember talking about Epcot's World Showcase in a feature story in Journalism class for my high school newspaper. (I still have that edition with my Epcot info somewhere in a box in my garage).  Oh how I wanted to see what Walt Disney World was like back then for myself - even though I had Disneyland as a playground just about 30 minutes away. 

And now, all these years later, it's fun to pull out the old photos from time to time and see how things have changed, while some things have remained the same.  I plan to share some of these old photos here, both of Disneyland, and later of my first treks to Walt Disney World.  Much has changed there too in the past 21 years since my first visit. 

As young girls, my grandparents treated their twin daughters - my mother and aunt (who are the young ladies in today's flashback photo) - treated them to a day at Disneyland each year for their birthday.  Here they are, in about 1957, following their day in the park.  They're fraternal twins, one being blond and the other brunette, but simply because they are twins, my grandmother loved having them dress alike to show the rest of the world that they are twins!  Even to the point of they both had to get the same button for their matching jackets!  Enjoy this glimpse of how styles and park-wear have changed.  They're low, but those are heels that my grandmother is wearing.  Ladies, when was the last time you wore heels into a theme park?  

It looks like these young ladies just enjoyed a great day at Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom - Disneyland!  

Monday, July 16, 2012

stopher's stuff


Such a beautiful word it is.  No matter if means a cabin in the woods, a timeshare on the beach or a ship setting sail for the majestic splendors of the Inside Passage - rest and relaxation should be what drives you to take a vacation.

I have fond memories of vacations past when I was a child in Mammoth Lakes, California.  The eastern Sierra Nevada mountains are just so beautiful, so tranquil, and so majestic.  They have somewhat of an alpine feel to them, and are just so special in my heart.  That little slice of heaven - God's country as we called it - will always represent rest and relaxation to me.  

We would go every summer to the same places.  Some years when I was really small we would camp in a tent trailer or a tent, until my parents began to rent a little cabin in the woods from one of the three lodges in the area that provided housekeeping cabins.  My grandparents would come along as well, and we had such a good time together.  Fishing, hiking, horseback-riding, bike riding and so much more were all part of our regular routine on those jaunts into the woods.   Some summers we would go just once, others we would go twice - closer to both Memorial Day and again at Labor Day.  

Over time we switched from one lodge to another, and had our favorite cabin in each  lodge that we would always try to secure when making the next reservation.  My grandmother and mother would eagerly put aside money each week into the vacation fund, so that we could all have a great time together once more.  We didn't mind that there was no tv reception (except in the Olympic years, such as this year). We didn't mind that the town itself was small, and there were no large grocery stores, or movie houses.  We enjoyed being together as a family.  

As I grew older still, and became a teenager, my parents decided to purchase a townhouse there in town.  (Eventually they even sold the home I grew up in and relocated to that beautiful little town).  It was wonderful to be able to get away to our favorite destination even more often throughout the year, having our own vacation home right there.  Suddenly we were able to be there in all seasons.  I even took a group of friends for an extended weekend getaway to Mammoth during my Senior year of high school.  That was awesome!

But that whole being together thing - that's really what a vacation is all about, isn't it?  It's not so much the destination (sure that is a NICE part of it all), but really, a vacation is about spending time together with those you love.  And getting some rest, and relaxation while you're at it.  

As an adult, my lovely bride and I have had a variety of experiences with our children - including one time taking our kids to Mammoth Lakes, where my eldest caught his first fish.  Sometimes we've gone with their grandparents, other times not.  Many times we were invited along on trips with our parents, other times we asked them to come along.  But for us - since we relocated out of California and to the Midwest, not once, but twice - the majority of our "vacations" have been treks back home to visit family in California and the west.  We haven't always gone to the same place each summer, but we have enjoyed going places together with our kids.  Making memories, and spending time together.  It wasn't until we made the decision to join Disney Vacation Club (DVC), that we knew we would have a place to return to time and time again much as my parents did with that little cabin in the woods.  Going to Walt Disney World often is something we've enjoyed, so owning a little piece of the magic just made sense to us.   

And now that's exactly what we're doing once more - going somewhere together with our kids, making memories and spending time together.  This week we're spending time at one of our favorite destinations, Walt Disney World.  But we aren't going in to the theme parks.  We're simply enjoying a couple of our DVC home resorts.  We're at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas for several nights, and then we'll move over to Disney's Saratoga Springs for some nights.  It's been a very busy year for us (we have teenagers!), and we really needed to capture this time together with them before life changes in a dramatic way in just two more years.  Yep, the oldest will be off to college soon, and we will never again have quite the same experiences together as we do now.  He'll have a life of his own, and mom and dad might not fit back in to his schedule for a few years or more.  And of course number two will follow suit about three years after the eldest does, and then we'll be down to a family of three at home.  Events that were SOOOOO far off in the future when the boys were toddlers are now very close to reality.  

So we stop the crazy busy-ness at home for a brief period and get away from it all.  We knew early this year that the summer of 2012 would be full and busy and crazy.  We saw that of the entire summer, there was really only one week-and-a-half period where we would ALL five of us be in the same house at the same time with no distractions, visitors or "things to do."  And we also knew that if we did not take the time as a family to get away from all of the myriad of possible temptations that might take one family member away (friends, activities, movies, etc, etc, etc) - so we knew the only way to stifle those temptations was by getting away from the temptations themselves.  By pausing and transplanting our family for the week-and-a-half we could actually slow down, pause and enjoy our time together.  

It'll be a week of nothing much.  Sleeping in.  Eating in and a little eating out.  Cards.  Video games.  Pool time.  Talking.  Board games.  A little exploration.  Laughing.  Perhaps the beach.  And other general silliness.  Time to pause and reflect on where we've been as a family, and yes, where we're headed.  Just spending time TOGETHER.  

It might not be in the still quiet of the mountains with babbling brooks nearby... but it will still be very nice, and very enjoyable.  And very much needed.  Memories are at stake you know.  Someday my kids will be the ones remembering back on their mom and dad making sure that we had this time together.  

Until next time,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Character Interactions at Aulani

Character interactions are as much a part of the "Disney Experience" as rides and attractions at the various theme parks around the globe.  Here at Aulani, the total number of interactions is lower than at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, and the character selection is certainly smaller - but those characters who are here on vacation at Aulani - are such a huge part of what makes Aulani a Disney resort.  While I've been at Aulani I have personally interacted with several characters as seen here:

My brother, who lives in Honolulu, came over to Aulani for a visit and tour yesterday.  It was cool to hang with him, and show him around the resort.  He came over and saw some of the construction progress for me, but hasn't been over here since it opened.  We enjoyed lunch together at 'Ama 'Ama, and then, even though he was embarrassed, I made sure we got our picture with the Goof!  He said repeatedly he was "too old for that kind of thing", but I didn't care, because I'm NOT too old, and neither is he. (We haven't had a picture taken together with a character since we were around 9 & 12 respectively!  Being the "pesky younger brother", it was cool to embarrass him once again like I did many years ago!)

Other characters are here, but I didn't get the opportunity to interact with them.  Mainly Chip & Dale, Donald Duck (I did see him, just from a distance), and I'm told Lilo makes appearances as well.  No princesses or other characters - but that's okay, since they wouldn't really fit in within the environment of Aulani anyway.  

Friday, November 4, 2011

Finally It's Friday!

The past year has been a big trial for my family and me - but even though several trials continue - I am so happy to say that it's FRIDAY!  I don't mean that in the typical, "thank God it's Friday" kind of way that so many in the workforce utter each and every week - but I am very pleased about this particular Friday.

Last year in August, my father-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. As a lifelong non-smoker, the diagnosis took us all a bit by surprise. Never once did he even consider a cigarette or cigar. Yet he was afflicted with a form of cancer that typically afflicts smokers. When he was diagnosed, he was also told that his cancer was already Stage IV, which surprised us all as well.  WOW. 

In September my lovely bride flew west to spend 10 days with her dad - to be a helper, not really knowing what she might face while there since the original prognosis was that he had about 6 months or less to live.  But during that time, he seemed to get a bit better.  Upon her return, we started to plan and figure out how or when we might be able to get the family out there to see him before it was "too late."  We determined that Christmas break would be the time, and so we started to plan for a Christmas vacation in sunny Southern California.  While there we would be sure to visit my aunt in central California who has struggled with lymphoma for the past several years.  We loving dubbed the visit our California Cancer Tour. 

While in Southern California, celebrating Christmas, we went to the Disneyland Resort.  We stayed at the Grand Californian Hotel in a beautiful 2 BR villa, overlooking the Paradise Pier section of Disney California Adventure.  My father-in-law, the trooper that he was, came along and stayed with us for one night.  He didn't want to go down to the park to watch the then-still new World of Color show, but he was able to see it from the window of our villa, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. The next day - he went with us into Disneyland!  It was a crazy, crazy day for certain.  That particular day turned out to be the busiest day in park history.  A friend of mine who works there, visited with us at lunchtime while we ate (at Redd Rocket's Pizza Port) and told us that they were all afraid they would run out of food that day!  The ticket booths stopped selling tickets at 10am... the earliest they'd ever done that.  Crazy.  And we were there.  We didn't get on much that day due to the very, very long lines.  Even using the wheelchair entrance for Pirates, we had to wait over an hour (the regular line was between 2 & 3 hours) - and then we got stuck down in the jail scene of the attraction as it had broken down.  YO HO, YO HO kept playing for a good 20 minutes before finally they turned off the soundtrack, turned on the work lights, and started to evacuate everyone.  By the time we were out we'd been down there for 30 minutes.  All through it my father-in-law was such a trooper.

The months continued to pass, and his condition seemed to take a couple steps forward and then one backward.  My wife went out to Southern California again to spend another 10 days with him this past June.  While she was there - my grandmother, my final living grandparent, came very close to death.  We thought that Julie would be going to a funeral while visiting her dad.  While that didn't happen, my grandmother did die soon thereafter and I went out for a memorial service in mid-July.  I stayed with my father-in-law while out west, and his condition had markedly decreased since I'd last seen him in December. 

He kept telling us that he wanted to come out for a visit, but of course, that wasn't going to be possible.  We determined to get out there and spend some time with him - at least Julie and the kids.  I had a business trip for work scheduled for mid-October, so hopefully, we would be able to make it all come together and each of us is able to see him again.  Then in early September, another shoe in our crazy year dropped - I was now unemployed. Just a week before Julie and 2 of the kids were scheduled to fly west to spend time with her dad. 

We worked out the details, and by the end of September, my older son and I were on a plane heading west to spend some time with Esau.  My son only had 5 days excused from school, but he enjoyed the time with his grandpa. (We also took a day to go to Disneyland while there... it was fun).  My son had to return home, and I stayed on in California a few more days - when the younger kids and I all flew home.  The day that we flew home, my wife and her brother took Esau to the doctor for a check-up visit.  Upon their return home from the doctor, she told me that the doctor felt he had about 2 weeks or less to live.  That prognosis turned out to be true, as he left this life 8 days after my kids and I returned to Indiana.  Suddenly we were planning to go back to California for a funeral, which took place last weekend - a week ago tomorrow.

So why am I so happy it's FRIDAY?  I'm thrilled, because after 7 weeks away - my lovely bride is finally returning home to me, and to our kids. It was such a blessing to be able to "give her back" to her dad for a time when he really needed her... but it will be such a blessing to have her home once more.  I have spent 5 of the past weeks running the house as a "single dad" - all while seeking replacement income for what was lost in September - and it makes me appreciate her so much more than ever before.  She really does an awful lot, that as a homeschooling mom, goes entirely unpaid. She works just as hard, if not harder than most moms who work outside the home.  I feel for all of those single parents who have to "do it all" each and every day.  Especially when you throw in all of the taxi driving that we do for our VERY active teenager, our active pre-teen, and our just starting to get active, elementary student.  WOW.  It's not easy running here there and everywhere - making sure to keep those hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the vehicle (of life) at all times! 

I'm thrilled that it's Friday... my bride is currently on a plane heading east. I get to pick her up in a few hours, and all will be right at home once more.