It’s pretty common when we stay at a Disney resort to find ourselves saying afterwards that we wished we’d spent less time running around the parks and more time enjoying our resort itself.

Well, between the age of the kids and somewhat gloomy weather all week, I’m happy to say that this vacation we did exactly that!

Animal Kingdom Lodge is perfect for lounging because the atmosphere itself is both relaxing and exciting with all of the animals, and as a bonus for the kids, they actually had quite a few different activities that they could partake in between Jambo House and Kidani Village. In addition to just getting super excited spotting all of the animals, the boys also had a chance to learn a little about ecosystems and conservation from one of the cast members, Christopher worked on a scavenger hunt which gave him a chance to practice talking to people, and he and Sara also played a fun game finding various landmarks around Africa on a map.

Vacationing is definitely different with kids because try as I might, you can’t exactly just lay around all day and take in the ambiance in the manner which I would currently prefer, but nonetheless I think they all had a great time and we didn’t spend nearly as much time fighting with lines in the parks, so that’s a huge win in my book!!!

Today took us to Epcot where we had dinner at the Garden Grill, along with Mickey, Pluto, and Chip and Dale, too!

Our original intent was to watch the Candlelight Processional afterwards, but it was kind of drizzly all day and I had a very low tolerance for dealing with the rain plus cranky kid attitudes on account of said rain.

I was also a little miffed that we finally found ourselves in the park while the DVC Member Lounge was actually open at the Imagination Pavilion, but still didn’t get to go because there’s no accommodation for strollers and I didn’t feel like breaking the party up…

Anyways, we ended up just having dinner and then taking the opportunity to give the boys a couple of rides on the monorail instead, which they ended up enjoying just fine! 😀

We originally weren’t going to do Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this year because it was too expensive, but there ended up being a mix-up with our room and Disney gave us comped tickets anyways!

This is always a great party for the atmosphere – snow blowing down Main Street, complimentary cookies and hot chocolate (that were actually complimentary this time!), and just the characters and other happenings that aren’t normally out during a normal day at the Magic Kingdom. Believe it or not, I even danced with Christopher because after he spotted the dance party at Cosmic Ray’s when we were on the hunt for cookies, surprisingly he just had to be a part of it himself!

What can I say – parenting brings out parts of ourselves that we never knew we had in us… 😉

Today was on and off stressful, as most days with our kids tend to be, but this picture represents one of the happy, little moments when everybody was in a good mood and looking in the same direction and everything!

I’m honestly not sure who gave him the stickers, or why they gave him so many, but I’ll have you know that he was definitely somehow wearing one curled up as a tail while this particular shot was taken… 😯

I don’t really like to sing in front of other people.

Call it anxiety, call it reality after my bizarre stint back in high school when for like a year and a half I was somehow the singer for the rock band I was in, but as much as I’ll sing along with the radio like anybody else in the car when I’m by myself, I normally just can’t do it with any sort of an audience – even if it’s just my wife.

Yet tonight I found myself singing Christmas carols in the car with Sara and Christopher, and it was both different and kind of nice.

Part of it was because we were desperately trying to distract David from whatever the heck he was crying about, and another part of it was sheer amusement/amazement each and every time that I looked over my shoulder to see Christopher smiling and singing along with us like he knew all of the words by heart!

Considering how much he really struggled with speech over the last couple of years, and even looking back to his end of the year program at school last year where the whole class sang a couple of songs and he just sort of stood there … it was really awesome to see my kid happily singing about Rudolf and Santa and Frosty like it was just another one of those things you do for fun at Christmastime.

…before life and anxieties convince your brain that you have no business emitting any tones other than your normal speaking voice, anyways!

It’s probably hard to tell much from the picture, but I still thought it was kind of neat to notice before going to bed for my unexpected second night in the hospital. It seems that the iconic, blue lights that run the edge of the building’s roofline actually change colors, and in fact are currently set to alternate red and green for the Christmas holiday!

Admittedly I think all of these medications and the general awesome care I’ve been getting are making me a real sap right now, but I thought that was kind of neat to see as I turned out all of my lights to go to bed tonight. 😉

Being a parent of toddlers, right now I’m more so just enjoying the kids experiencing the magic and excitement of Santa for the first time … even though Christopher is four now, I’m not sure in previous years he really understood the whole presents thing. But nonetheless, I haven’t really put much thought into the next next phase where they start to pick at the thread and ask questions like, “How does Santa Claus – who’s built like a dump truck – get down all of those skinny, little chimneys in one night???”

That said, I really liked this anecdote that Erik shared on social media the other day as an awesome way to transform the whimsical kids tale into an inspirational message for adults to lead their own lives by.

In my experience so far, a huge part of how we teach our kids to be the best people we can is through leading by example. It makes me very proud whenever someone remarks that Christopher is so polite, and a lot of that comes from him just being around me and mimicking whenever I tell someone please or thank you.

And if the idea of Santa Claus is a way to push forward those acts of kindness through the whole year by tying them to such a special, childhood favorite, well, talk about the gift that keeps on giving, indeed! 😉

A … Already?!

B … Busy Busy Busy

C … Christmas Cookies!!!

D … Donations

E … Elf on a Shelf (is creepy as fuck)

F … Fudge (but I didn’t say fudge!)

G … Garfield Christmas

H … Hot Chocolate

I … I sure hope it doesn’t snow in Florida!

J … Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas

K … thinking about learning Karate to fend off the mobs at the mall!

L … 25,000 Twinkling Lights

M … Merry and Bright

N … ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

O … Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree (Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree…)

P … Presents!!!!!

Q … Quick, I think I heard Santa up on the roof!

R … Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer

S … Sugar Plums (I have no idea what these actually are, let alone if they’ve ever danced in my head…)

T … Toys and Treats

U … Up on the House Top

V … Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

W … We Wish You a Merry Christmas (and a Hippo New Year)

X … It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Xmas!

Y … All I Want for Christmas is You

Z … Christmas Zebras??? (my kids love zebras, so why not?!)

I think Christopher would be absolutely beside himself if he were to wake up to find this incredible Disney monorail Christmas village under the tree on Christmas morning!

Mind you, his brothers would almost immediately destroy it like something out of a Godzilla movie, and it would only go downhill from there, but still, it would be pretty amazing until then. 😉

TWO YEARS, I WAITED!!!

I stalked the Amazon, and Target, and Walmart websites.

I randomly showed up at stores when I heard that shipments were due in.

I even got the inside track from a stockman at Toys ‘R Us, who basically hinted that regular customers have no chance at getting coveted items when they show up six at a time and there are at least six employees who are even moderately interested in buying one.

Eventually I gave in like many others and built a RetroPie instead, and it still works great day!

And then I come across an entire stack of the things in the Nintendo aisle at Best Buy like they’re a part of some big holiday promotion or something!

So yeah, I bought one.

I don’t really need it because my RetroPie has all the games on it already, but I have the Super NES Classic and it’s a cute, little option for playing games in the bedroom late at night, so if nothing else I can set it up alongside that and recreate the nostalgic combo that got me through elementary and middle school!

Let’s be honest – I’d play The Legend of Zelda on a shiny rock if Nintendo released it; plus, all of the knock-offs … at least the ones that are bold enough to be sold at the freaking mall … kind of drive me nuts.

I still think it makes a cute way for my generation to relive the classics – especially if they’re not necessarily geeks and don’t want to jump through hoops and whatnot.

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