Saturday, October 3, 2015

My Birthday Celebration at Walt Disney World

My husband and I stole away for a few days over the long Labor Day weekend to celebrate my birthday. Walt Disney World is one of our favorite places to go and we have celebrated birthdays for many of our family members there over the years, but this was the first time I have had the pleasure of celebrating my birthday in the parks. What fun it was! We arrived on Thursday evening at our favorite of Disney Vacation Club resorts. It also happens to be our D.V.C. home resort!
Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas
Lobby at Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas
Upon entering our studio, I noticed Mickey had been around and left a birthday balloon and a card for me. Our celebration was off to a great start!
My Birthday Celebration at Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas/
After our bags arrived in our room, it was still early enough to take one of the Walt Disney World transport buses to spend a couple of hours at  Disney's Magic Kingdom. One of the things we love about staying at Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas is its proximately to EPCOT's World Showcase. The resort is, depending on how fast you walk, easily only a five to ten minute's stroll to enter through the Gateway to EPCOT's World Showcase. On our way to the front of the resort we could see the fireworks and laser show taking place over at EPCOT. I quickly snapped a picture or two just before we boarded.
EPCOT's Nightly "Illuminations" Fireworks and Laser Lights Show Viewed from the Front of Boardwalk Inn
When we walked into Disney's Magic Kingdom that first night, Disney's "Wishes Spectacular Show," a nightly event, was in full swing. The park was quite crowded that evening and we were positioned near the front of the entrance and really could not get close enough while the display was taking place to take good pictures or video. It is a fabulous show! Perhaps you would like to check it out here

I did get a couple of pictures of the fall decor which had already been put up in the park.
Fall Decor at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom at Night
A few more nighttime pictures of the fall decorations at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Fall Decorations at Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Fall Decorations at Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Fall Decorations at Disney World's Magic Kingdom
My actual birthday was on the next day, Friday, but I wore the Birthday Celebration button every time we went out for the entire trip! Most people do that you know(lol)? But.seriously, they really do!

We started out our Friday by celebrating at EPCOT, which is my favorite of all the Walt Disney World parks. We walked from Disney's Boardwalk Inn to Disney's World Showcase and then over to EPCOT's Future World where we enjoyed lunch at Sunshine Seasons in EPCOT's Future World Land Pavilion. We both ordered the Oak-grilled Rotisserie Chicken with Black Beans and Rice and found it was delicious!. Sunshine Seasons is a great place for the entire family to dine. Dining is "counter service and prices are comparatively reasonable. We dine in Sunshine Seasons pretty much every trip we make to Walt Disney World. You can check out the restaurant and see the menu for breakfast, lunch /evening here.  We truly have never had a bad experience in dining at Sunshine Seasons.

The staff and attendants are very good there and are especially helpful and friendly. They seem to go out of their way to make dining there a pleasant experience.In fact, the young lady who attended the section in which we were seated brought over a beautiful and delicious birthday dessert for me when we had finished our meal. It was big enough that the two of us could share.
Red Velvet Macaron Style Birthday Dessert  from  Sunshine Seasons Counter Service Restaurant

This adorable young woman had arranged for some of the other attendants to sing to me for my birthday. It made me happy just to see their smiling faces! I took the following photo of them, in which our lovely attendant is pictured on the farthest left! Isn't she pretty?
EPCOT's Sunshine Seasons Table Attendants Sang for Me on my Birthday
As you can see from this close-up, my birthday dessert was a  large red velvet macaron with cream cheese and chocolate chip filling. It truly was decadent!
Red Velvet Macaron Style Birthday Dessert at Sunshine Seasons Counter Service Restaurant
Isn't it a gorgeous thing? I loved that adorable and edible chocolate Mickey Mouse face on top.

After our fabulous lunch experience, we took a cruise on this attraction-Living with the Land. This is a favorite of our entire family and has been since the time EPCOT first opened. Two of the things in this attraction I like most are the old nostalgic farmhouse with chickens and dog in the yard and the last part of the ride. On the last part, passengers are carried in their boats through an area where species of aquatic animals are raised. Also,  there are greenhouses that feature all sorts of growing plants, along with different growing techniques. Some of the produce raised in here is used throughout the park in the restaurants in the park.

From this ride, we went straight on into another attraction in the Land pavilion. We had a "fast pass" for this ride, Soarin'. Soarin is my absolute favorite ride in EPCOT's Future World. It provides an exhilarating experience akin to hang-gliding, in which you can smell the fragrance of oranges in the orange orchards down below you. You will breathe in the spruce aroma of evergreens in the trees as you glide over the forests. There is the hint of salt air over the waves, which your feet seem to fairly "skim" as you swoop down over the ocean! Near the end, the passenger sweeps down over Disneyland  in California at night when the fireworks are going off and it feels as if you are next to the fireworks as they are exploding in the air. It is amazing!

The ride is process of being upgraded to expand to two "virtual reality" screens and will have scenes to expand the hang-gliding experience to places around parts of the world. I hope it will be as pleasant and exciting as the current experience because, as far as I am concerned, it is an awesome and thrilling ride!

Since we had planned to spend the entire day at EPCOT, we had made advance dinner reservations for Les Chefs de France, pictured here:
Les Chefs de France at EPCOT's France Pavilion
We scheduled our dinner to coincide with the Illuminations Fireworks and Laser show. I ordered the Canard aux cerises (Duck breast with cherries from the entrees on the menu . I had never eaten duck before, so this was a first for me. I found it to be delicious.

The fireworks began shortly after we sat down for dinner. We had a perfect view from where we were seated by a window with a view of the lake over which the fireworks always takes place. It was difficult to get pictures because of the reflection from the window, but I tried anyway. Les Chefs de France is a busy restaurant at dinner time.
View of Illuminations from Les Chefs de France  at EPCOT's World Showcase
The place was bustling and noisy, as you might imagine a wonderful French restaurant would be. I wish I had taken a picture of my dinner but I was so excited watching Illuminations. However, if you look closely, you might be able to see my plate of duck breast with cherries in the reflection in the picture below. Ha Ha!
Illuminations through the Window of Les Chefs de France at EPCOT's World Showcase
The next day, we took Disney's transport bus back over to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and enjoyed another fabulous meal at one of our all-time favorite places in all the parks, Disney's Crystal Palace. If you have ever been here, you will know what out-of-this-world breakfast and lunch buffets they serve. The restaurant, itself, is built in the style of a wonderful atrium and is nothing short of stunning. This picture is taken at what is the first place you will see when you enter at the front of the restaurant. Isn't it gorgeous?
Entrance Area of Disney's Crystal Palace Restaurant
The characters from Winnie the Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood provide some delightful entertainment during the time you dine at the Crystal Palace. I seriously love me some Winnie the Pooh and so I never tire of going to this wonderful place! I think Winnie loves me too!
Winnie the Pooh and Me
My friend Pooh and me again.
Winnie the Pooh and Me
More friends.
Tigger and My Sweet Man
And who is this? Well, what do you know, it's Eeyore!
Eeyore at  Disney's Crystal Palace
As you can see, my husband is loving it at Disney's Crystal Palace and is getting his share of attention too!
Hubby and Eeyore at Disney's Crystal Palace
We had both enjoyed some fabulous desserts from the buffet selection, including a custard flan, so we thought it could not get much better, but we were wrong. What's the best way to top off a fabulous meal at Disney's Crystal Palace? Well, another birthday surprise, of course! I was treated to a birthday cupcake and a card signed by Winnie the Pooh and Friends from the Hundred Acre Wood! Isn't this just the sweetest thing!?
Birthday Cupcake and Card from Pooh and the Gang at Disney's Crystal Palace
Obviously, any concerns for watching what I ate had flown straight to the wind on this trip! I had to simply forget it!!!

Back out on Main Street U.S.A. after that wonderful meal, I received another birthday surprise when these handsome Dapper Dans began to serenade me with a song!
Dapper Dans on Disney's Magic Kingdom Main Street U.S.A.
Here's one of me and those Dapper Dans! What more is there to say about them? They really are dapper!
The Dapper Dans and Me in Disney's Magic Kingdom
We enjoyed the parade on the Magic Kingdom's Main Street U.S.A.
Parade on Main Street U.S.A.
More Main Street parade pics.
Parade on Main Street, Disney's Magic Kingdom
One more picture of the parade.
Parade Main Street U.S.A. at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

That night, we watched fireworks while we were at Disney's Magic Kingdom at Fantasy Land.

Fireworks over Fantasyland at Disney's Magic Kingdom
More fireworks.
Fireworks over Fantasyland at Walt Disney World
Still more fireworks taken while taken near the Prince Carousel at Disney's Fantasyland at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom! This is one of my favorite spots to view the fireworks! I love it!
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The following day, we visited Disney's Animal Kingdom. I took quite a few pictures there with my camera. I realized later that the memory card I had in it was full. Drat! I stuck with my smart phone after that!

That evening, we made a quick trip over in one of Disney's Friendship Boats to Disney's Hollywood Studios.We were hoping to visit a young friend who happens to work at the new Starbucks at Hollywood Studios. Unfortunately, he had already left for the day.

This is a picture taken while standing on the boardwalk, before boarding one of Disney's Friendship Boats to over to Hollywood Studios. The Friendship Boat is captured in this picture.
Disney's Boardwalk at Walt Disney World's Boardwalk Inn and Villas
The last day of our visit,  we took one final stroll on Disney's Boardwalk and around the resort before departing for home.
Disney's Boardwalk

Big River Grille on Disney's Boardwalk

Shops along Disney's Boardwalk.
Shops Along Disney's Boardwalk

Another view, watching one of the Friendship Transport boats docking.
Disney's Boardwalk
Some pictures of the main swimming pool area and the Kiester Coaster slide.
Pool with Kiester Coaster Slide at Disney's Boardwalk Inn
Another view of the awesome pool.
Kiester Coaster Slide at Disney's Boardwalk Inn
I hope you enjoyed my birthday get-away post. As you can see, we packed a great deal of fun into our escape and were kind of sad to leave. We look forward to returning next summer with the family. There should be about 14 of us. We will celebrate our granddaughter's birthday!

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Special Man and a Special Request

Dear Readers,

If you happen to be reading my blog post, would you please take a moment to do this?
Pray for a Cure for Cancer in the World
Our hearts are aching! On Friday, September 18, 2015, at the age of 48 years and after bravely fighting a 4-1/2 year battle with kidney cancer,a precious man whom we loved dearly drew his last breath, closed his eyes for the last time on earth and went to Paradise to spend eternity with his Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. My husband and I loved him as if he were our own son. He and my daughter were high school sweethearts and parents of three beautiful children. If you care to read about him, I am providing a link here.

I have posted some pictures of Jimmy in the past and told you a little about his struggle. In this photo, taken on July 4, 2010. Jimmy is kneeling on far left front row. Jimmy is pictured with their family and friends here in the first photograph of the post. He is wearing the red shirt and sunglasses and friends in the photo are wearing their Kick out Cancer Canepa Strong tee shirts in support of Jimmy. The second photo of the post is of Jimmy too and you can see how sick he must have felt. Still, he wanted to be there to support the kids who were playing and the adults and youth who were helping to coach the games. He was very active in sports and other church activities. He loved all children and children adored him.

He fought cancer so hard and went through kidney, lung and brain surgeries trying to stay with his wife and children as long as he possibly could. He endured years of various chemo treatments and radiation and all the terrible side effects. He was such a big, strong man and the one person others called upon first to help with any kind of need. He was a wonderful cook and loved to cook for others. He spent many, many hours in the kitchen at church, cooking for various functions, fund-raisers and so on.  He gave great big hugs freely and he had a huge and caring heart. He attended the births of many, many babies, including his own,  and he cried, unashamedly, at the births of each and every one. He shed tears at the deaths of others. He had a beautiful spirit and he touched the lives of everyone he came in contact with throughout the years. To know him was to love him!

I was blessed to have spent many precious moments with him. I was especially blessed to spend a good bit of time with him during the last year or so of his life while my daughter strove to continue her job as an elementary school teacher. This picture was taken the day before he underwent surgery on his brain to remove a massive tumor.
The Day Before Jimmy's Brain Surgery with All Five of Our Grandchildren
The children all piled on the bed with him. The two boys at his side and the girl lying in the middle, in bright pink shirt, are his and my daughter's three children. The other two girls are our youngest daughter's children. He has fed and changed the diapers of each and every one of them when they were babies. They all love and miss him so very much! Those big strong hands were so gentle with the smallest of babies.

This picture was taken on the day of my brother Tommy's funeral. Tommy passed away three years ago next month. He was a victim of AML(Acute Myeloid Leukemia). He was another loved one whose life was robbed in so many ways by the ravages of cancer. We have lost many others over the years, including my sweet daddy who was stricken with pancreatic cancer.

The following picture was taken on one of the last trips that Jimmy was able to take with us to Walt Disney World.
Jimmy at the Boardwalk Inn and Villas
This is another picture of he and their family that was taken on that same trip.
Jimmy and Family on Disney's Boardwalk
The following picture was taken Easter 2013 at our house.
Jimmy on Easter 2013

This was taken at the church at one of the last basketball games where he was well enough to coach.
Jimmy Coaching Victory Sports
We saw this beautiful, healthy man as cancer relentlessly ravaged his body. Cancer is a terrible and hateful disease. Our hearts are heavy and we miss him so very much. We take comfort in knowing that our sweet Jimmy won the final victory over cancer and is now free of the pain and suffering that had become so much a part of his life. He loved God and he loved God's son Jesus. Because of his faith he now dwells in eternity with his Savior.

Cancer not only takes its toll on its victims, but it wreaks havoc, in every way, on the entire family unit and all who love them. A cure for cancer is out there somewhere!  Please pray for a cure for cancer in the world and an end to the suffering this disease, in all its forms, brings to its victims and those who love them!