Sunday, May 29, 2011

Food Glorious Food

**All links to the restaurants will take you to food reviews (with photos) on the Disney Food Blog. Check it out!**

Food was a LONG conversation for Kyle and me hence this LONG post, but this is by far my favorite post in my pre-trip report so far! There are so many amaz
ing possibilities for table service (sit-down) meals at Walt Disney World. We both had our opinions, but I’m fairly new to
sit-down dining at Walt Disney World, so I was open to new places. I’ve been to many places, but most of them were character meals. We also needed to work around Kyle’s food allergy (no problem, but I like my dining partner to be able to have a dessert to pick, so we needed to keep it in mind). Once we had our Park days picked, we could plan meals fairly easily though.

We decided to eat dinner in Magic Kingdom on Friday, our arrival day, at the Liberty Tree Tavern in Liberty Square. It’s partially based on Johnny Tremain and even has a tree with lanterns in it outside of the restaurant. I’ve heard the turkey there is excellent which is perfect for us because Kyle loves turkey!

You don’t know of Johnny Tremain?! Oh the scandal!! Yeah... I didn’t either, but here’s the “Sons of Liberty” song from the movie. It’s got the tree with the lanterns in it.

Catchy tune, no?

Saturday we’ll be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios enjoying Star Wars Weekend. At first we planned to not have a sit-down meal, but plans changed (right after I posted the last post about park days), and we decided to stop for lunch at 50’s Prime Time Café. I’m a little nervous about this meal because I’m not dying for someone, specifically the waitstaff, to gripe at me to eat my veggies or get my elbows off the table, but I’m going to give it a go since Kyle seems to want to go there. :) Besides, by staying through dinner, we can see the Hyperspace Hoopla and then head back to our resort to enjoy Yeeha Bob’s show!

Hoping this will be part of the Hyperspace Hoopla:

I’ll wait while you watch it again. Yes, it’s that hilarious to watch Darth Vader do the Hammer dance! Done giggling? ;-) Moving on to Epcot!

Our first day at Epcot, we’ll be relaxing in Italy at Via Napoli for dinner. The menu here looks amazing, and the pizza ovens are really fantastic. Right now I just want to order an authentic Margherita Pizza. I love dining in Epcot’s World Showcase because you truly feel like you’re in a different country.

The meal I’m most hesitant about is one Kyle was dying to make a reservation for: Boma – Flavors of Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s traditional African fare, but I’m told there are some normal items on the buffet too. Monday's dinner will find me sampling many different items including Potatoes with Afritude (pictured to the left).

When my family went to Disney World in January of 2009, we missed one of our dining reservations and ended up being able to get a new reservation at San Angel Inn Restaurante in Mexico in Epcot instead. It was the best meal I’ve had at Walt Disney World to date! Amazing authentic Mexican, not TexMex, food, melt in your mouth steak, and despite being indoors you feel like you’re on a patio at night in Mexico! You also get to watch the boats for the Three Caballeros ride pass by. At first I wanted to go to Garden Grill again, but after a few days, I begged Kyle to go here instead and he kindly obliged my request for our dinner on Tuesday to be here. (Side note: we may do a casual lunch in Downtown Disney and shop on this day instead of the one listed in the last post.)

Kyle mentioned how fabulous the breakfast skillets (think all you can eat Mickey Waffles!) were at the Whispering Canyon Café at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort. I’d really been wanting to do a sit-down breakfast at WDW, and our last day seemed like a perfect day to enjoy a long, leisurely, sit-down breakfast. The hitch in this was it would make us miss Magic Kingdom’s Rope Drop. My faithful readers all know that one of my favorite events at WDW is the Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom. Thinking quickly, Kyle suggested that the day before, Tuesday, we head to Rope Drop (maybe jet in to ride Peter Pan’s Flight) and then park hop on the monorail over to Epcot for the day. That way we could go right to breakfast on Wednesday. Sounded like the perfect compromise. :)

Planning meals with someone whose tastes you aren’t familiar with is a feat, but it was fun! Once we decided where we wanted to eat, using the online WDW dining reservation system was fast and easy! I can’t wait to try all these new places!

Which places do you like to eat at over and over again? Any WDW table services that you’ve been wanting to try but haven’t gotten time to get to yet?

**Thanks again to the Disney Food Blog for all the restaurant reviews! I visit the DFB daily to drool over the Disney World food and plan what I want to try on my next trip!**

Next Post [June 3rd]: Be sure to come back on the 3rd because I’ll have some interactive fun for you! Kyle and I need your help making a part of our plans for our trip!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hop on the Monorail!

Fairly soon after we booked our trip, Kyle and I had to figure out where we wanted to make our sit down dining reservations. We very quickly realized that meant we needed to pick out our park days first. Yep, I totally messed with you there. Promised a food post, but that’s the NEXT post. This one is where we’ll be and when. We will park hop some, but we had to plan in what parks we’d mainly be at for the day to plan meals.

The past 3 trips I’ve made to Walt Disney World have been with my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew. I have loved every minute of those trips, but planning an adults only trip is very different. You don’t have to go to ride Dumbo as soon as you get into Magic Kingdom. You can go to any park on your first day, and you both know it actually is Walt Disney World. You don’t have to stop for naps midday (but stopping to go swim is totally ok), and no one is worried about rides being too scary for anyone. That’s a little fib, but I’ll explain that in a later post. It’s different. Not better. Different. I’ll miss the kids. I’ll miss little hands sneaking into mine to walk hand in hand through the parks as we sing “Imagination”. There’s other things I’ll miss too, but this trip will still be amazing.

Moving on.

We set up our park days over instant messenger and were able to move on to meal planning afterwards. I remember at one point Kyle said something to me like, “you know you can have an opinion on this too!” We, thankfully, agreed so much on park and meal plans that it was fairly easy to figure out. I wasn’t agreeing just to be nice… it was just like he was saying exactly what I was thinking. Ha!

The surprising part of our picks for Park days is that we chose to never have a full day at Magic Kingdom, the park most people think is called “Walt Disney World”. We’ve decided it can be our bookends, our travel days. We’ll be there around 1 or 2 the afternoon we arrive, and neither of us fly out until 8 pm-ish, so we’ll go there our last day. That way we can see Wishes (and Main Street Electrical Parade if we decide to stop for it), but we can spend full days at other favorite parks.

*More videos to come in future posts!*

Kyle and I both LOVE Epcot, so we’re spending 2 full days there, and we’re hoping to see Illuminations: Reflections of Earth (the fireworks show) twice. I can’t wait to spend more time in World Showcase!

It just so happens that we’ll be at WDW for the last Star Wars Weekend. Exciting, right?! Ummm….hmmmm….welllllll… actually.... I hadn’t really seen all the Star Wars films (or paid attention to them), so to prep for this I had to watch those. Did you know the Storm Troopers are the bad guys?! I didn’t until I watched! They wear white! What bad guys wear white?! *whistles innocently* Right. So we’ll be spending a day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for that but only the one day.

Last trip I realized that I’d been missing out by not going to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, so we’ve got a full day planned there as well. I can’t wait to explore a bit more and see the shows! Oh and the meerkats (pronounced “merkats” by yours truly)! Can’t wait to see those!

So here’s what we have planned (which can always change):
Friday: arrive, Magic Kingdom (see Wishes)
Saturday: Star Wars Weekend at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, dinner in Downtown Disney, & see Yehaa Bob perform at POR
Sunday: Epcot (see Illuminations)
Monday: Disney’s Animal Kingdom, enjoy Downtown Disney (shopping!!)
Tuesday: Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom (I’ll explain on the next post), Epcot (see Illuminations)
Wednesday: Magic Kingdom, depart

*Since I wrote this post, park hours have been extended, so we'll most likely be park hopping even more than we'd originally planned.*

So if this were you, how would you change what we have planned? Are we committing an unforgivable sin by not spending a full day at Magic Kingdom?

Next Post [May 30th]: I’ll actually chat about our dining reservations (and include some of the best links yet)! They’re going to be yummy! Taking bets now: do you think we made any character meal reservations?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Moving Up in the World

It is my firm belief that when one goes to Walt Disney World it is a must to stay on Disney property. By staying on-site you stay fully immersed in the Disney World area. You also get *great* perks like free transportation to and from the airport, bus rides to and from the resorts, the Disney Dining Plan, and Extra Magic Hours to name a few. I mean, if you going to do Disney, you’ve got to do it right!

When I went in 1987, we stayed off-property, and I have never done so again. For the band trip in high school in 2000, we stayed at All-Star Music Resort. January 2009, we stayed, again, at All-Star Music. May 2009 was my favorite value resort, Pop Century. November 2010 we stayed in the family suites at, you guessed it, All-Star Music.

This trip Kyle and I quickly agreed that Pop Century was the place to stay. I mean, have you seen the Tie-Dye Cheesecake?

They have fun pools, cute theming, and it’s a value resort (cheap but all the Disney perks).

I thought for sure that would be the easiest choice we made for the trip. Then I got an email with a coveted free dining PIN (which I seem to be a magnet for). We forwarded the PIN code to the travel agent, Pam at Kingdom Konsultants, and she quickly changed our reservation to use the free dining promotion. She also mentioned as an aside that she had priced a moderate resort for us too. (Disney has value, moderate, and deluxe resorts.)

Our ears perked up when she said that! Come to find out for only a little bit more, we could stay at Port Orleans Riverside! The reservation quickly changed!

Want to know the perk of POR that I’m most excited about? Instead of one sink in the bathroom, we get two! I know that’s not big to you, but remember, Kyle & I haven’t met, so sharing space will be a new thing. In fact, sharing space with a man will be new for me. ;-) Also, I have a lot of hair to flat iron in the morning. Not having to dodge my elbow while I do that will be a blessing for him.

We will also get to enjoy a beautiful, not in your face DISNEY, setting based on the Louisiana Bayou. They have their own piano-playing comedian: Yehaa Bob, and the pools even have a water slide! The rooms are a bit bigger, and there are more busses that come there. They also have a boat that transports you to and from Downtown Disney, the shopping district. How much more awesome could it be?

What’s your favorite Disney resort to stay at? If you could pick any resort, where would you love to stay? (Contemporary for me!)

Next Post [May 27th]: What sit down meals will we pick to use our free dining?

**Yes, I posted this post early, but I am going to be busy tomorrow, so I wanted to get this one out there.**

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wanna Go To Walt Disney World?

January 26th of this year, I emailed Kyle, a guy I’d met on DisDates the May before and become good friends with, and basically said “no pressure but I’ve priced a Walt Disney World trip for us. What do you think?”

We’d tossed around the idea of a trip on Twitter for a few weeks prior to my email. Casual mentions of Disney Cruises, Disneyland, and Walt Disney World, but something inside of me cracked in January, and I realized I was seriously going to go to WDW this summer. I was prepared to go solo, but I knew I’d rather have adult company, so I totally went out on a limb and emailed Kyle.

Here’s probably as good a place as any to mention that Kyle and I haven’t met in person yet. It’s also a great place to say that I’m not worried at all. We’ve now known each other for over a year, have emailed, talked daily on Twitter, friended each other on Facebook, and spoken numerous times on the phone. He's an awesome guy, and I’m good with this plan. :) (Oh, and that's most likely the most "juicy" details you're gonna get. Haha!)

Anyways, a few emails back and forth after my “wanna go to WDW” email, and Kyle was contacting his travel agent, Pam at Kingdom Konsultants, to make a reservation for us! That really seems to be the way it goes when I ask someone to go to WDW. (Remember the spontaneous trip in May of 2009? By noon LaRae was making our reservation!)

For the next few blog posts I’m going to write about what our plans are for this trip (a pre-trip report I guess) and about what I’m looking forward to most. I mean with a start like this, how could this trip be anything less than FABULOUS?

**Quick note: This pre-trip report is only a small glimpse into planning a WDW trip with two WDW fanatics. Hours of talk goes into plans, and it's not at all boring. Every minute of it is joyful planning full of laughter an excitement! This trip has some differences than my last trips too. For instance, if I wrote about a trip with my family there would be pages of design work & images, but I’m refraining from all that this trip. :)

Next post [May 24th]: Where did we decide to stay? Did we go value or did we get a great PIN code?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Changing Careers

The great thing about being a kid is that each day you can choose what you want to be when you grow up. You can change that at will. No one is pressuring you to decide between a cowboy and a firefighter, and even if you decide to be a pink marker when you grow up, that’s ok. (I vividly remember being in preschool and having the “what do you want to be when you grow up” discussion, and one girl wanted to be a pink magic marker.)

Sometimes I wish I still had that freedom. Don’t get me wrong, my lifelong dream was to become a teacher, but some careers weren’t possibilities when I was younger. I’d love to be a social media manager for a company or further my math degree by adding engineering and become a Disney Imagineer. Other days I wish I could open my own bakery and decorate cakes for a living. There are times I really miss being a cake decorator. The smells, the daily use of creativity, the free cake: it all rocked! Who knows, maybe one day I will do one of those careers, but with the economy the way it is now, a change is not coming soon unless it’s to move states and continue teaching.

Lucky for them, Joshua and Katelyn (my nephew and niece) are still young enough to change their minds every 5 minutes. Joshua really wants to be a firefighter, and I’ve promised to keep my opinions on that to myself from now on. Katelyn hasn’t proclaimed her choice yet, but she is so smart, so creative, and loves books so much that I’m sure she’ll succeed at anything she does.

I decided to close the poll early since it looked like 9 voters was as high as it was going to get. Thank you all for participating! It was fun to have a way for readers to interact without commenting.

Now that the results are in, here’s the adorable winner:

Next blog post I'll start my pre-trip report! You'll get all the "juicy" details about my upcoming Walt Disney World trip including who I'm going with, what our plans are, where we're staying, where we have meal reservations, what I'm looking forward to the most, PLUS a fun interactive twist right before our trip! Tune in again on the 21st for the beginning of the fun!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

There's a Poll at the End of This Post

Tonight a little cowboy carrying a large pile of clothing came running into the living room at my sister's house proclaiming, "Daddy I don't want to be a cowboy anymore! I want to be a firefighter!" His father, my brother in law, told him "that's fine. Be a firefighter!" Well the cowboy belt was a little difficult to finagle, so after a little help from his dad, this is what we were blessed with:
I think the cowboy boots totally make the look! Ecstatic at the prospect of his aunt being his new photographer, our cowboy/firefighter then said "wait! I want to be a policeman!" and begged me to wait toleave until he'd changed and I'd taken his picture. Again, the boots make the look even better:Not to be outdone by her little brother, my niece then exclaimed that she was going to dress up to get her picture taken and to wait for her! This is the public servant she decided upon: Yes, folks, she's Water Woman! The superhero I dressed up as last summer for our church's VBS. I couldn't help but laugh! How sweet! *heart melts*

Since my brother in law won the "name my blog" contest for no real prize other than pride, when he suggested I blog these pics and ask you all to vote on your favorite public servant, I was more than happy to oblige.

So which public servant is your favorite? Cowboy Fireman Joshua, Policeman Josh (yes yes it's the same cute kiddo) or Water Woman Katelyn? Vote using the poll in the sidebar (under my Twitter feed) and be sure to tell us why you voted for them in the comments below. Voting ends next Sunday, May 22nd! (Don't worry - we're telling the kids it was a tie because they're both awesome!)

Friday, May 13, 2011

I'm in the 0.16%

I am a member of the 0.16%!

Wednesday afternoon and evening I worked like crazy to completely revamp my blog's design. Coincidentally Wednesday afternoon and evening Blogger worked like crazy to break my blog and then not fix it. There's a longer explanation available, but the gist is that all posts and comments from the early morning hours of Wednesday on were deleted from the system. Most blog posts and comments were restored today after 20.5 hours of read-only Blogger.

Some of you are noticing that your comments are missing from the past 2 posts. Supposedly they might show back up this weekend. I promise I liked all of your lovely comments and did not delete any of them! :)

What's the 0.16% about, you ask? Well, that's the estimate of the percentage of bloggers that "encountered additional problems specific to their accounts" and that is where I fall. You see, all that work I did on Wednesday went out the window with Blogger's snafu. If you checked my blog today, Friday, you noticed that my blog had reverted back to its old, boring design. Imagine my shock and dismay when I pulled it up to show a friend all my hard work, and my blog was blah again!

Tonight I got all crafty and decided to add a couple more labels to the sidebar and to redo my design. I have taken more screenshots, so that I can quickly color match my Twitter feed AGAIN because I *do* think this will happen again. I have a very realistic expectation that now that I've once again redone my blog's design, Blogger will revert back to an old iteration of my blog. I believe I can now reset it in about 15 minutes. Does that put me in the top 10% of the 0.16%? ;-)

Real blog post coming up soon-ish. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Don't You Wish Your Girlfriend Could Blog Like Me?

A couple of days ago I asked for help with a new title for my blog. I promised to work PhotoShop magic to showcase the new name. *facepalm* Yeah, I decided simple is better. Maybe later I'll make something cuter.

I did, however, totally update the "Blogs I Read" list to include websites I frequent. I removed people who haven't blogged this year unless they're really really good friends or people I'm related to. I also added those nifty little badges so people can find me on Twitter and Facebook. Don't worry, my Facebook is still locked up tight. I haven't found a good gadget to run my Twitter feed down the side of the page though. Anyone have one they can recommend?

Now on to the fun! So many of you came up with awesome & hilariously witty blog titles for me. The big winner was my brother-in-law with "Joanna and her Amazing Technicolor Interwebs"! Here's some of my favorites that had me laughing like crazy!

Some stuck to math:
Math, but now only when I feel like it, chick
Have you seen my Protractor?
But why is all the math gone? (also a Disney reference)
Eight Squared Plus Seventy-Six is Not Enough (this one is really about Twitter too)
Random Comment Generator

A few showed how self-centered a blog really is:
You know I'm right
But enough about you...
If it Was Important Enough for Me to Write About, It's Important Enough for You to Read

One addressed my random topics on the blog:
Soooo... This Happened

Many of my faves centered around Disney:
I came here to write crap & drink Dole Whips. And I'm all outta Dole Whips.
The blog I write when I am not on Twitter or dreaming about Disney World
I heard that sometimes Johnny Depp puts on a costume & it's really him reading this blog.
Marie! More Bloguettes! (Do you know what this refers to?)
Can I get this for a snack credit? And other great questions of life.
I Tink, Therefore I Am
Tomorrowland Internet Authority
International Gateway to Joanna's Thoughts
It's Just a Blog Post (Toy Story 3 reference)

Quite a few were random, geeky, and completely awesome:
Words with Friends & Random Internet Acquaintances
Nobody Puts Bloggy in a Corner
Look I didn't get fired, I just changed the title, okay?
One Blog to Bind Them
Introspective Journal of a Minor Math Deity
All that glitters is not gold. Oh who am I kidding? Of course it is!
Let them read words.
Thought Verification has been enabled. All posts must be approved by blog readers.
Sent from my Rockin' iPad
I Just Gleeked
Mathchick: Legacy (Comic book reference)

All in all, it was more fun to read y'all's new titles than to actually read my blog! Hehe! Thanks for playing! Now that you've named it, any ideas on what I should write about next?

**Edit** When you click on your settings on Twitter, right under where you input your web address for your profile, you can click a link to add Twitter to your site. That's where I got my nifty feed over there. ------> I was able to change the colors and flow from Twitter, and they added it to my blog for me! Proud moment: I used a screenshot of my blog and Photoshop to sample the blog's colors to make my feed all matchy matchy! Grab one for your blog so you can be spiffy like me. ;-)

Monday, May 09, 2011

What's In A Name?

If you've made it this far, you know that my blog's web address has changed. I identify myself as goddessofmath on Twitter and Facebook, so it seemed natural to go ahead and change my blogging identity as well.

Now that that's out of the way, I need help with some future changes. I want to totally update my blog. Most of that will be done on my end with some handy Photoshop magic (always wanted to design it myself anyways), but part of it needs your help. You might have noticed that the title of my blog, Life According to a High School Math Teacher, isn't very fitting. I rarely, if ever, talk about teaching thanks to laws and such. If anything, showing life as a teacher is just showing that we're people like everyone else. So out with the old and in with the new!

My new blog title is... yeah... I'm stumped. Can you, loyal reader, help me out? I would LOVE suggestions! Here's what I've been playing around with:

1. I like lists, so "Listing..." What I'm listing to or listing itself, I have no clue.
2. I enjoy blogging about Disney World, but I'm not limited to that. Subtle Disney title would be cool though.
3. I'm a geek, pure and simple, so something that incorporates that would rock.
4. I think a play on words would be nice, but I'm all mathy and such and unable to come up with one.
5. Finally though I do think I've got something going with this: I write on my blog when 140 characters on Twitter isn't enough. If I could incorporate that into a rockin' blog name (like 141 Plus), it would be total awesomesauce.

I blog about my life. That includes, but isn't limited to, random stories about me, my family, and my dog. It's about funny moron moments that I have and Disney trips and thoughts. I write about what comes to mind when the mood to write hits. It's random. It's undefined. It's more than 140 characters. Always.

Suggestions? I'm eagerly awaiting the lightbulb moment when a great blog title falls into my lap, so I can start putting my mad Photoshop skills to work. Help. :)

Saturday, May 07, 2011

10 Random Facts

This evening I started thinking about random tidbits people might not know about me and wondered if I could make a list of 10 things. Here they are. I think they get more interesting the further down you read.

1. I like to make lists. Blog posts, emails, directions, to-do, packing… lists are awesome!

2. I used to not put stuff on the top shelves in my kitchen cabinets because I couldn’t reach them. Now I keep a small stepstool (it’s cute too) in my kitchen, so I can use them. It made the whole kitchen feel bigger!

3. I have a great eye for color, but I have no confidence when it comes to wearing colorful jewelry. I tend to only buy silver, black, and clear jewelry because of this. Pink has recently made an appearance in my purchases since I know I have plenty of clothing it will match.

4. Photoshop became a passion of mine a few years back when I taught myself how to use it to make t-shirt designs for a family trip to Walt Disney World. I still use it some, but designing shirts for free took its toll on my hobby.

5. I check the door locks every night right before I go to bed even though I know they’re locked. When I do it, Sprinkles knows it’s time for bed and heads to the bedroom.

6. Bubble baths are an addiction of mine. I use them for stress relief and getting warm when I’m cold. During this winter’s snowcation, I took 2-3 baths a day!

7. If my sister didn’t have faith in my singing abilities and speak to Mario without me knowing, I would have never been on Praise Team. It took months for me to sing loud enough for people to actually hear me, and I still feel like the “second string” on the team.

8. Continuing on from singing, I prefer to sing the harmony instead of the lead. It’s more entertaining and challenges me. In male/female duets, I tend to like to sing the man’s line more.

9. I love to read and write, and I almost double majored in English and Math, so I would be able to share my love of literature with students as well. It delights me that this always surprises people. This ties in with how confused some people are when they realize I’m a math teacher after they discover I’m really creative. It doesn’t mesh well in people’s minds for some reason.

10. I will always be happy to give you a book recommendation, but for the last year I’ve really been delving into teen fiction. I could go on forever about what makes it superior, but I’ll let you figure it out for yourself. Read The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins or The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (starts with City of Bones) and you’ll understand.

Alright, there you go. That’s my boredom buster for this evening. Hope you were mildly entertained. Next post I’ll head back to Walt Disney World, or I’ll write about bunnies. I hear everyone likes bunnies.