Light the World

We participated in the light the world campaign this year. Service for 25 days in 25 ways. It was so much fun! My favorite part was leaving school every day and the kids asking “Who are we going to serve today?” Here are the things we did. We can’t wait to do it again next year and to make service a bigger focus in our daily lives. I am so grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and his perfect example of selflessness and service. May we ever strive to be more like him!

  1. Helped a family member deal with anxiety.
  2. Wrote letters to loved ones.
  3. Took friends to a live nativity show.
  4. Lydia gave a talk in church about the Birth of Christ.
  5. Donated blood
  6. Made breakfast for administrators at school
  7. Donated cases of our favorite foods to a local food pantry
  8. Prayed for friends and family by name
  9. Raked leaves for others
  10. Paid the toll for the car behind us
  11. Donated toys to the giving tree
  12. Donated new pants to kids in need
  13. Dinner for someone sick
  14. Donated clothes to needy
  15. Let kids cut us in line to ride first
  16. Made treats for the missionaries
  17. Went to support a friend at his baptism
  18. Took dinner to a friend who had a baby
  19. Made treats for teachers
  20. Took dinner to my cousin on bed rest
  21. Candy cane bombed a parking lot with friends
  22. Lydia donated 9 inches of her hair to girls with hair loss diseases
  23. Delivered treats to friends and kids’ primary teachers
  24. Made Christmas treats for neighbors
  25. Visited sister in hospital

 

 

Merry Christmas

We were very blessed with another fabulous year of health, strength, and love. We are eternally grateful for all we have. Merry Christmas!

The Best Way To Do Disney!

The Best Way To Do Disney!

I Won’t Do Disney Any Other Way

Several years ago a friend of Stephanie’s shared with her about a less known secret at Disney World called Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!  We’ve gone for 3 years straight just for this party.  Here is the jist:

  • Tickets are less expensive than a traditional park pass
  • The party is from 7 pm – Midnight, but they let you in the park (Magic Kingdom) as early as 4 pm.
  • At 7 pm the park ushers out everyone who is in the park on a regular day pass, and those with wrist bands for the Christmas party stay… meaning the park becomes a whole lot less crowded, and the ride lines incredibly short!  Most lines are between 10 – 15 min waits, some up to 30 minutes… but that is nothing compared to 1.5 – 2 hours on a normal Disney day.
  • At different stations all throughout the park, the cast serves hot chocolate & cookies, or snowcones and snowmen cookies, or hot cider and ginger snaps, etc.
  • There are charater dance parties in different areas of the park
  • There is a special Christmas parade and firework show

This event isn’t really advertises, but it is something you have to search for specially and purchase tickets.  The Christmas season is a great time to visit Disney, but if you can’t make it for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party… you should also know they do a similar event for Halloween too!

Things to See While You’re There

If you’re going to Disney for the Christmas or Halloween party, then you’ll practically have a whole day before you can enter the park.  But don’t worry, there is plenty to see at Disney while you’re there before you enter Magic Kingdom.

Disney Springs (Formerly Downtown Disney)

Disney Springs is a fun place to shop, play and dine.  They have a lot of restaurants in this area with a newly constructed section offering even more.  Here you’ll find the T-Rex Restaurant (with live dinosaurs), the Lego Store, the Disney Store, Rainforest Cafe.  From here you can take the water taxi to Old Key West resort and Saratoga Resort.  And new this year they do a flying drone show in the evening over the water.

Visit Disney Resorts

On the monorail or with boats, before you enter Magic Kingdom you can visit the close Disney resorts.  They are decorated for Christmas and are so fun to tour around in seeing the different sites.

  • Contemporary Resort: the hotel that the monorail goes right through the center.  This year they had a 2 dimensional Frozen castle made from gingerbread.
  • The Grand Floridian: our favorite resort at Disney to visit.  It reminds us of a Biltmore style mansion all dressed up for Disney.  The Grand Floridian also has a life-sized gingerbread house
  • The Polynesian Resort: takes you back to a remote island with polynesian-style design and decor
  • Wilderness Lodge: a Yellowstone-inspired resort with a log cabin feel.  It even has a geyser like Old Faithful that erupts every hour (this one is only accessible from water taxi – not the monorail).

Disney Boardwalk

The Boardwalk is another fun place to stroll before spending your day at the park.  I recommend at night with the lights by the water and the hotels you can visit.  You can also talk some water taxis here to get around.

  • The Swan Hotel & The Dolphin Hotel: really fun hotels to walk through and visit with Christmas themed decor.  One features the largest chocolate display (made of real chocolate) and there is a nice sandy beach by the pools you can play in, where you will also find fire pits to roast marshmallows and outdoor movies.

Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA

We love Savannah, GA!  From the River Walk to the Spanish moss, this city has such a unique atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else.  Here are some of our favorite things in Savannah.

River Street

River Street parallels the Savannah River lined with old buildings, cobblestone roads, and ships going in and out of the port.  Stroll down River Street to find great dining, shops like River Street Sweets (which is a must for old-fashioned candy and southern pralines) and on weekends a farmers’ market.

 

Historic Carriage Ride

It is worth paying for a Historic Carriage Ride at least once on a trip to Savannah.  The kids had a blast, and we were able to see the city along with interesting stories we never would have known otherwise.  Along with some of the history, if you are the kind of person who likes ghost stories, Savannah is known as one of the most haunted cities in the U.S. and there are plenty of ghost tours you can check out.  From historic ghost tours (which are the more interesting ones to me) to actually ghost hunting inside the haunted mansions at 1:00 am in the morning!

City Market & Savannah Squares

Savannah is scattered with public squares with green space that served as commons areas in the old days.  Walking through the city lets you explore these old parks with monuments, Spanish moss, and history around every block.  City Market is a great place with dining, live music, unique boutique-style shops, horse and ghost tours, and more.  Even Paula Dean’s store and restaurant is located here.

River Street Sweets

The most famous candy shop in Savannah!  Stop by on River Street and taste samples of their pralines.  The kids always love a fun treat from River Street Sweets.

Tip 1: Staying in Savannah

Staying inside the City of Savannah is pricy, and because we keep our travels frugal, we’ve discovered a great place to stay when visiting Savannah.  There is a Super 8 just outside of the city (about 15-20 min drive to River Street).  Normally a Super 8 isn’t our hotel of choice, but when we found this one on TripAdvisor.com, we had to try staying here.  It is the highest rated Super 8 we’ve ever seen!  So with reviews like this one has, we found they were spot on.  Not only do you save money, but your stay is pleasant in this very modern, clean Super 8.

Tip 2: Parking in Savannah

Knowing where you are going to park ahead of time saves a lot of headache.  Parking can be hard to find on the narrow cobblestone streets.  There are several parking garages around, but we’d recommend the Whitaker Street Garage, which is closest to the City Market, just down the street from The Lady and Sons Restaurant (by Paula Dean), and a couple blocks from River Street.  You’ll also find it is between two nice green squares (Ellis Square and Johnson Square).

Tip 3: Eating in Savannah

Savannah has an abundance of great places to eat… and that sometimes makes it hard to decide where to eat.  If you can only pick a few good places on your trip, here are some we’d recommend.

  • Zunzi’s Take Out:  This is where the locals eat!  And by the reviews on TripAdvisor, you will likely love it too!  It is a spin on South African dishes, that offers vegetarian and gluten free options… but is remarkably good.  It is outside dining, so only go when the weather is nice.

 

  • Vinnie Van Go-Go’s: For the pizza lover, this place will satisfy.  With inside and outside dining, and close proximity to the City Market, you can’t go wrong eating at Vinnie Van Go-Go’s.  it is also on the more affordable side of dining.  Just know, they are cash-only.
  • Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room: A must try!  I’ll admit, we haven’t yet eaten here, but one look at the reviews, and based on personal conversations we’ve had with locals, this is one place you have to go to… and we will eventually.  The reason it is hard to get there is that it is basically only open from 11 am – 2 pm Mon-Fri.  So if you don’t plan ahead, and be ready for a feast of a lunch, then it is easy to pass until a later time.
  • Goose Feathers Cafe: An adorable little cafe with healthy options, close to Ellis Square.  We stopped here for a warm sandwich.  Very good, and one of the easier-on-the-wallet places to eat in Savannah.
  • Huey’s On The River: For some quality seafood and a little nicer dining atmosphere, also right on the River, Huey’s is a great place to eat.  A bit more expensive, but worth the money in my opinion.  This place is the reason I like grits.