Christmas In July At Our House

Blessings, in abundance, in our house. Our blessings are sent from above. They are in love for our children, family members, and close friends. Blessings given as gifts. Such as, good health, happiness, the strength of love dissolving the stress of life.

We decided before our last two children moved out this year, that we wanted to celebrate Christmas with them. So Christmas in July came to our house this weekend.

Friday, we loaded up in my truck and visited our very nice Kroger store. Our daughter took her two children and worked on getting all the dairy products we needed, and our son went in search of baking items. I reread the list several times,added a few things and then we headed home for some hot cheddar broccoli soup and warm blueberry muffins. Of course, we needed a warm meal if we were pretending it was snowing outside! We listened to Christmas music and ended up Friday evening watching Trapped in Paradise.

Saturday morning began the preparations of ham,corn souffle,green bean casserole,baked beans,cookies, and pumpkin pie. We had Christmas themed cartoons on for the babies and enjoyed looking at the decorations and lights that filled the family room, kitchen, and bathrooms.

Today, Sunday, we will bake cookies, ice and decorate them, enjoy leftovers, watch more Christmas movies and my husband will read from the book of Luke in the Bible.  In our minds are visions of past holidays and travels, memories we have shared with one another. In our hearts is overflowing love and abundant blessings that we never dreamt could be. Happy Christmas! Merry Christmas in July! Love Hope and Peace! Jen

Starting at Start Again

Hard work has always been a wonderful way for me to keep in shape, help others, and make very good money. My residential cleaning business grew quite large and branched into commercial, new construction, and cleaning boats for shows. I met and am still meeting, some very wonderful individuals, that make me feel like part of their family. I was still able to take our four children to school each morning and pick them up each day. I made great use of our crock pot, kept our own home clean, and had nights and weekends, usually, free. I always enjoyed, and still do, having my own business and being a loving family of six.  

Lately, Gary and I have been developing new ideas that are very different from our current way of thinking, living, and working. By mid-August, we will be an empty nest. We have found it very exciting to think about being just the two of us.

Then I began to worry what will we do? I admit to being kind of emotional and experiencing some panic. Could I be exciting enough, that my husband would want to start a new chapter in life with me?

I decided. Yes! We are in love. We want to travel our beautiful United States, we want to eat and cook new foods and drinks, we look forward to  exercising, bike riding, hiking, swimming, hang gliding, learning to dance, bake, write, photograph, blog, laugh, and take care of each other.

So the title says Starting at Start Again. In a game, that can be discouraging. But in life, that CAN be encouraging! Excited to share pics and blogs about the paths we enjoy together in the second phase of our life. Love. JenlovesGary

our 20th wedding anniversary,we are so proud,so in love

i am smiling so much after an amazing trip my husband and i took to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary! many exclamation marks times forever! a big WOW! and many huge smiles :) :) :) :) :) :) we made love we held hands we kissed we walked and talked and laughed and smiled and looked into each other’s eyes so many times (times a billion)!!! we were totally alone in a sea of people at Walt Disney World in Orlando,Florida during the busiest time of the year, NEW YEAR”S!!! we wore Happy Anniversary buttons,given to us when we checked in to our campsite #2041 and we wore them proudly. it was a blessing to hold onto each other at Magic Kingdom and hear people yell at us-Happy Anniversary to which we said back,Happy New Year! we were so blessed in so many ways,just like we have been blessed in so many ways in our marriage together.we say all the time that we can not believe the different levels of love we are reaching together.we just can’t.we are so close and so happy that people actually ask us if we are newlyweds which is truly wonderful to tell them how long we have been together.we are back from our trip and will post more, along with pictures.our hearts are crying out for each other this morning as we are separated by work,but just like every day of the work week,we text,email,and call and say a ton of i love u’s and how we can not wait for tonight when we are back in each other’s arms.i can not be sorry for this post that is dripping with all our love……..

Discover the hidden Magic of Fort Wilderness Campground at Walt Disney World

fwcNestled peacefully on the south eastern banks of Bay Lake is the rustic Walt Disney World Fort Wilderness Campground.  Originally opened on November 19, 1971, this relaxing paradise has endured for over forty years providing wonderful memories for families from generation to generation.  My family was  introduced to this incredible resort back in 1998, and have been blessed to have spent time and build fantastic memories of trips with our parents, children, friends and now grandchildren!!

The campground is laid out in a large “somewhat” circular design with  paved “loops” that have campsites and cabins (see the attached Fort Wilderness Campground map from Walt Disney World) at various locations. The loops contain clean and spacious Comfort Stations with women’s and men’s bathrooms and showers, a laundry area and an ice vending machine. Campsites are available in three ranges from primitive to premium increasing in size and amenities based upon your needs. There are over eight hundred campsites and four hundred cabins.  Some of the most incredible times spent have been touring the loops and viewing the decorations that campers, from both tent camping, to large motor homes, have set up to celebrate their time at Fort Wilderness. The most incredible displays are around Halloween and Christmas time! 

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There are three areas of development at the campground, the Outpost, the Meadows, and the Settlement. The Outpost includes check-in and registration, the horse riding barn, and the Walt Disney World bus stop for complimentary bus service for both inside the FWC resort and buses heading to the four Walt Disney World theme parks and other Disney resorts including Downtown Disney. The Meadows area can be found in the middle of the resort and includes the main themed pool with an excellent slide and a fun kiddie splash area, tennis courts, sand volleyball pit, playground, shuffleboard, bike and canoe rentals, and the Chip and Dale sing along and outdoor movie area. We have spent many days with all of our children and grandchildren enjoying all the activities in this area! The Meadows also includes a Trading Post which provides opportunities for purchasing foods, drinks, and various retail items with many things not found elsewhere (and yes of course with Disney branding).

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We  have always been drawn to the long trails, the winding canals,ALL the  fun outdoor activities, and ease with which everyone could get to all the different Walt Disney World fun!  There are so many opportunities to see wildlife, and experience special times together in ways you will never experience anywhere else. Some of my wife and my best conversations have been sitting in rocking chairs at the Trading Post and at Trail’s End watching our family play.

At the upper part of the Fort Wilderness Campground resort, located along Bay Lake, is the Settlement area. This area includes Pioneer Hall with the Hoop-De-Doo Musical dinner show and the Trails End buffet restaurant, horse carriage rides, a themed character backyard Bar-B-Que, a great playground, another Trading Post, and the Marina. Complimentary boat transportation is provided to and from Magic Kingdom and the other two Bay Lake resorts, the Fort Wilderness Lodge and the Contemporary Resort. Also found at the Settlement is what used to be the petting farm/ranch and is now a pony riding area with the main horse barn for the large Belgians and other breeds that pull the wagons at the Walt Disney World theme parks.   hkfk

There is so much to see and do while you are at the resort, it is easy to forget that there are theme parks nearby.  Utilize the boats, and trails to connect to the other resorts and leave your vehicle behind.  If you have not been to the other Walt Disney World resorts, take the time to explore and experience the special foods and shopping.   Each one is so uniquely themed.

If you are unfamiliar with the Fort Wilderness Campground Resort, take the time to check it out online.  There is much information available to help determine costs and activities and of course, book your first visit! Online reservations can be made at http://www.disneyworld.disney.go.com or by calling 407-939-5277 to speak with a Walt Disney World  reservations specialist.

An excellent resource to help with EVERYTHING is the wonderful people at http://www.FortFiends.net (we ourselves are FortFiends). If you are new to camping or have no equipment currently, check out how easy it is to use their website and forums to find rental equipment and helpful FWC recommendations.

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We hope that soon you may come to discover this hidden Magic on the shores of Bay Lake.  Have you any special memories of Fort Wilderness Campground Resort?  Please share a magical time or favorite place or activity.

Celebrate the New Year with Downtown Disney!

If you are looking for that special place to ring in the new year that has restaurants, entertainment, shopping, and lots of people watching, there is no better place than Downtown Disney for 2013! What is currently known as Downtown Disney, originally opened on March 22, 1975 as Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village.  Through the years changes and renovations occurred with the opening of Downtown Disney’s West Side in 1997, and the closing of Pleasure Island in 2008.  Construction renovations are in progress with a completion date of 2016 for what will be called Disney Springs.  There are over forty restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues for all likes and tastes. One will find a special added feature for the New Years Eve celebration at various outdoor locations the addition of DJ dance parties and live music!

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There are several area hotels and resorts, plus the opportunity to stay onsite at Walt Disney World at one of their fantastic resorts.  This option provides you with the benefit of not only being in the most magical place on earth, but Walt Disney World transportation to and from Downtown Disney.  Please note though that with the increased attendance at the New Year’s Eve celebration there will be longer wait times and heavier traffic. Whether you are looking to enjoys some of the unique and fabulous food and drinks, or just enjoy being outside for such an occasion, there is no place that will provide you with a more complete entertainment value.  Reservations should be made as far in advance as possible as many places will see full occupancy.  Consider your transportation needs carefully, especially if your plans include partaking in alcoholic beverages.

Activities are scheduled to commence around 8:00 pm and will wrap up at 1:00 am on New Year’s Day.  Don’t hesitate to come early though, as there are always lots to do and enjoy when you are at Downtown Disney. Have you or your family enjoyed New Year’s Eve  celebrations at Downtown Disney? Please share with us an experience or your favorite thing to do!

Enjoying Walt Disney World cuisine on a budget!

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For many, the desire to enjoy a weldeserved vacation at Walt Disneyworld is just beyond their reach due to costs.   One area that Disneyworld has helped in the past few years is the policy change to allow outside food and drinks into their four Theme Parks.  There is probably no area within a budget that is more difficult to control than that of food expense.  Providing meals and drinks that will please everyone’s palate, and satisfy those cravings when and where they occur is just not easy.  With some pre-trip planning and purchasing, anyone can keep those costs in line and still enjoy that special Disneyworld cuisine.

One way to begin the planning is to consider what your family enjoys most.  Maybe everyone appreciates a good breakfast, or the idea of enjoying a Lighthouse sandwich at a Columbia Harbour House in Liberty Square, or everyone just loves those Dole whips found at Aloha Isle in Adventureland (both can only be found in Magic Kingdom, check the Disneyworld park map for directions). Whatever is special should be planned for and money set aside.  For all those other meals, snack and drinks consider bringing into the theme park inexpensive and simple items that will satisfy everyone and still keep your costs down.  There are several grocery stores in the surrounding area adjacent to Walt Disneyworld, with some open 24 hours, or within a walking distance to Downtown Disney, so pre-purchasing before your arrival is not required. There are limitations to the size of gear used to carry in those goodies, a bag no larger than 24″ x 15″ x 18″ is allowed, and you are not allowed to bring in glass bottles (with limited exception of baby food) and no alcoholic beverages.  Take the time to visit http://www.disneyworld.disney.go for the specific policies and regulations.

With just a little planning and preparation, your family can enjoy some incredible food and drinks that Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios has to offer.  Have you or your family any special ways to reduce your food costs while enjoying Walt Disneyworld?  Please tell us your secrets and planning tips.