“For I know the plans I have for you…to give you hope and a future.”

With Great Joy We Introduce Our Newest Son Aaron Donald Walsh Ho

With Great Joy We Introduce Our Newest Son Aaron Donald Walsh Ho
Born January 17, 2007 Guangdong Province, The People's Republic of China Forever Ours April 12, 2010
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

6 Years Ago Today...

Actually these photos were taken a few days after our wedding. On a Thursday afternoon we got dressed up again and met our photographer at Shelburne Farms for more photos. No reception to get to, just lots of fun taking photos.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Continuing to Adjust to Regular Life...(and it's really hard!)

We were truly spoiled with being in Disney for 9 days (and we enjoyed every minute of it). We are all having a hard time adjusting to our regular life. We've had tears every morning from Aaron who keeps saying, "I miss Disney SO MUCH. I love it there. I want to go back." Donovan continually asks, "When can we go back?"

I truly am jealous of people who are able to travel to Disney every year. With being a teacher and having just the school vacations/summer vacations off (which is exactly when we DON'T want to go to Disney since it's super duper busy, and in the summer busy and unbearably HOT), it makes it highly unlikely we will be returning anytime soon. I do hope we will return in a few years, once our daughter joins our family...

We LOVED our first day at Magic Kingdom (Friday, May 5th) as it was absolutely not crowded at all. We arrived at 8:15 to find the park already open and rides running (it was NOT Extra Magic Hours that day, but rather the park was closing early at 7 pm for Grad Night for Florida students, and due to that there was no evening parade or fireworks, making it much less desirable to most people). We literally walked onto every ride and did not have to wait in line at all! It was incredible. The following day (Saturday) was busier, and the following week (Wednesday the 11th) was VERY busy. We had gotten so used to riding Pooh 3 times, then heading to Dumbo for a couple rides, but on that day, we rode Pooh twice, and by the time we got to Dumbo, the line was over 30 minutes long (for a 2 minute ride!) I cannot imagine if it had been like that on our entire trip. I'm also glad those first few days the boys got all the characters' signatures and photos with them, as those lines were HUGE later during our time at Disney.

We just ordered our Photopass CD with the photos the Disney photographers took, and I'm starting to work on scrapbooks of the boys (photobooks, done online) of our trip. It's so much fun looking through the photos. What incredible memories we have!

Friday, May 13, 2011

We are home (and missing Disney!!)

Just a quick post to say we made it home last night. We had a 5 pm flight and got into Burlington at 8 pm. Both boys were exhausted after a day at Animal Kingdom and the flight home. Aaron slept a bit on the flight, but not Donovan (who had fallen asleep in the car on the way to the airport just a few minutes before we got to the airport, as luck would have it!)
Last night after the boys were asleep I unpacked and began the first of about six loads of laundry. I must say packing was much more fun than unpacking!!
The boys slept until 8:30, which is unheard of for them (both up by 6 am normally), and Donovan did not go to school today (school starts at 8:15). I took the boys grocery shopping, while Rupert began doing the edging around our flower gardens and spreading mulch (which was delivered at 8 this morning). It's supposed to rain tomorrow so we are hoping to get as much yardwork done as possible. So far I've done the weeding, he's done the edging, we both spread mulch. Up next is putting up the screens, hooking up the hoses, putting the snowblower away, and mowing the lawn.
While it's great to be home, we miss Disney so much!! On the car ride home last night, Donovan said to Aaron, "Tomorrow at Magic Kingdom do you want to go on Pooh or Dumbo first?" Aaron replied, "You choose. I want to go on Thunder Mountain Railroad and Astro Orbiter." They have grown so used to our schedule of visiting the parks the past 9 days, that returning to our normal life is going to be quite an adjustment.
We had the most wonderful time in Disney. What incredible memories we will always have!
I still need to post about our last two days at Disney. Blogger was down and so I was not able to post. I'll do that tonight.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Day 9 Disney - Animal Kingdom

This morning we headed to Animal Kingdom. This was the park Donovan and Aaron wanted to return to on our last day. Donovan's favorite ride (besides It's a Small World, which we must have ridden between 12 and 15 times during our times at Magic Kingdom), was the Kilimanjaro Safari Jeeps. He's been talking about it all week. Yesterday was "Extra Magic Hours" at Animal Kingdom (which means that people staying on site at Disney can get in early on certain days at certain parks, or stay later; we found this just ends up meaning the entire park is very crowded all day on those days, and so we avoided them). Since it was Extra Magic Hours at AK yesterday, today was predicted to be much less crowded. Given that the temperature was between 98 and 100 today, I suspect many people chose to do one of the Disney Water Parks (such as Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon) today.

We were there this morning about 45 minutes before the park opened. About 15 minutes before rope drop, Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto came out to greet us. Then, once the rope dropped, we raced for the Safari Jeeps and were on one of the first ones. It was an INCREDIBLE ride - we saw even more animals than the first time! Donovan was so happy!

On our walk to Dinoland, we stopped at Expedition Everest for Rupert to get a Fastpass to use later. The wait to ride was only 15 minutes, and they had a separate single rider line which was about a 5 minute wait. Rupert was able to get right on!

We then headed down to Dinoland and rode Triceratops Spin several times. There was not yet a line, so we were allowed to remain on the ride rather than getting off, back in line, and back on. After lunch the line for that ride was quite long, so we were so glad to have ridden it already.

We then went to see the Nemo Musical at 10:30. It was fanatastic. Of all the shows we saw during our time at Disney (Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Playhouse Disney, etc) the boys said the Nemo musical was the best/their favorite. It was really well done!

We then went to lunch at Pizzafari, did some souvenir shopping (Aaron had bought a Toy Story beach towel, and Donovan had been hoping for a Nemo one which we found.), and then headed to the Boneyard where the boys played and dug for dinosaur bones for about an hour before we headed back to the hotel to leave for the airport.

Last look at one of the views from our hotel room at the Dolphin.

A big thank you to Jennifer Newport for suggesting ordering the Photopass cd before we left for Disney (which we did). Besides the photos we took, we will have about 200 photos on that cd - and we were able to all be in the photos since the Disney photographers were taking the photos. Also, Donovan LOVED pin trading. LOVED it. I had ordered 25 pins off ebay (at Jennifer's suggestion), and we sorted them before we left for ones he wanted to keep (10) and ones he would trade (15). He was able to trade them for pins for his favorite characters. Aaron traded a few also, and we bought plenty of special ones for both boys. THANK YOU JENNIFER!

Day 8 Disney - Magic Kingdom (2 times in 1 day)

This morning we headed to Magic Kingdom for our last day there.

We rode Pooh (twice in a row with no wait), Dumbo (a long wait), Tea Cups, Race Cars, Buzz Lightyear Spin, and then headed over to Frontierland where we rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster (twice!), Rupert rode Splash Mountain (and got wet!) earlier when he was getting the fastpasses for Thunder Mountain Railroad. We then headed into Adventureland where we took the Jungle Cruise (at Donovan's request), and then rode Aladdin's Magic Carpets and walked through the tree house.
We ate lunch at Cosmic Ray's and then went to see the Monster Inc. Laugh Show (nothing great, but the air conditioning sure felt good!)
We rode the carousel, Peter Pan's Flight, and It's a Small World.

We left the park around 2, went back to the hotel to swim in the pool (Donovan is such a fish!), and then ate dinner early at our hotel and went to Magic Kingdom from 6-9. We rode Astro Orbiter (AWESOME VIEW!), Peter Pan's Flight (we had fastpasses, otherwise the line is over an hour wait, and for a 4 minute ride that seems excessive!), It's a Small World (Donovan's favorite ride at Magic Kingdom), the carousel, and then went back and rode Astro Orbiter again, just as the show and fireworks were starting. What an incredible view!! Here's Aaron on the carousel and Donovan and Mommy on Astro Oribiter.

While I realize we are so lucky to have been in Disney for 9 days, and we have enjoyed every minute of this magical trip, it is hard to believe it is coming to an end. It is going to be hard to leave tomorrow. We will be going to Animal Kingdom until after lunch, and then heading to the airport for our evening flight home.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Day 7 Disney - Hollywood Studios (take Two!) AND Magic Kingdom

We returned to Hollywood Studios this morning. Just as yesterday we boarded the first boat at 8:00 am, arriving at Hollywood Studios at 8:10, 50 min. before park opening. We went through security, and were the first in line at our ticket line. The boys ate snack, used restrooms, and read books while we waited. Today they understood how phenomenal the Toy Story Mania ride is, and the competition to get on. We were at the rope, this time in the first row, and prepared to begin racing when it dropped. And after yesterday we knew what to expect - fast pass people go to the right, people who want to ride go to the left to park strollers and then get on the ride. We were once again within the first 20 people on the ride. It was FANTASTIC, FANTASTIC, FANTASTIC. Of course at the end, Donovan said he'd like to go again, but when we exited, the wait was already 60 minutes and the fastpass line was huge - probably 45 minutes or more to get one.

Aaron then waited to meet Buzz and Woody for photos and get them to sign his autograph book. (Long story for another time as to why Donovan was not part of this...) I have not seen the photos Rupert took, but we have 4 fantastic ones of Aaron with Woody that the Disney photographer took (we signed up for the Photopass cd and have already close to 200 photos - it's one price for the cd, regardless of how many photos on the cd). Can't wait to get home and get our cd!!

We then went to the Playhouse Disney show which was very sweet. We walked through One Man's Dream (Walt Disney) and Aaron and Grandma decided to watch the 15 minute movie which they both enjoyed.

We had thought we were going to the 3D Muppets Show but then Rupert suggested we go to the Studio Backlot Tour instead....sometimes Mommy knows best...and that was the case. We should have stuck with MY PLAN. While Daddy enjoyed it, (behind the scenes look at how they make movies, including explosions, and a simulation of a disaster with fires, water raging at us, and our tram tipping) Donovan did not - Donovan HATED it, absolutely HATED it. Our serious, sensitive boy did not like it. We did all survive.

On our walk to lunch at Pizza Planet (again) we by chance got to see Mater. (Lightning McQueen is back in Radiator Springs for the new Cars 2 movie.) However, there was a LONG line to take a photo with him. So we went to lunch, then the boys played for a half hour in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground which they loved. As we turned down the road to start leaving who did we see but Mater going back to his location for more photos. We followed him and the boys were 2nd in line, so we were able to get some good photos (no autograph though of course, since he's a CAR). We took the boat back to our hotel, and headed to the pool for the afternoon. Donovan was in the pool for THREE HOURS. Such a fish. Aaron and Mommy stayed for 1 hour before heading back to the hotel room for Aaron to nap. Rupert went alone back to Hollywood Studios to see the 3 pm Pixar Pals parade (and video it for the boys to watch tonight). It's 96 degrees today and after 4 hours at Hollywood, no one else wished to return for the parade with Rupert!!!
Here are our two happy boys at Pizza Planet!

Tonight we ate at one of the restaurants in our hotel, and then headed back to Magic Kingdom. We rode the train twice, got off in Frontierland and Rupert rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Rollercoaster to give a report to us as to what it was like. The boys and I decided to go for it! Donovan rode with me and Aaron with Rupert. It was an AMAZING ride. As we got off, Donovan said, "That was a very dangerous train ride!!!" and Aaron said, "I want to go AGAIN!" Funny that our son who has SEVERE motion sickness is the daredevil who wanted to go again! (We had given him Dramamine ahead of time!) We did all go on for a 2nd time (same reaction from each boy as the first time). We then headed to Fantasyland where we rode It's a Small World (which Donovan loves), and then down to Tomorrowland to ride Buzz Lightyear Spin. We left the park just as fireworks were started (Donovan is NOT a fan of fireworks apparently! We need to get him some earplugs I think. He enjoyed watching them from the bus!) I carried one sleeping son (Donovan) into the hotel! LONG DAY and SO MUCH FUN! Tomorrow, back to Magic Kingdom for most of the day (supposed to be 98 degrees out!!!!) then back to the hotel pools for the afternoon (and I'll pack later in the afternoon when Aaron naps), and then back to Magic Kingdom after dinner.
It is going to be VERY hard to leave Disneyworld on Thursday!!!!1

Monday, May 9, 2011

Day 6 Disney - Hollywood Studios

Today we spent the morning (until about 1:30) at Hollywood Studios (fantastic) and the afternoon in the hotel pool. I think I've not mentioned how gorgeous, sunny and hot it has been. Our first day at Animal Kingdom was warm (80's) and partly cloudy. The next day at Magic Kingdom (Friday) was hot, but cloudy and a few tiny sprinkles. dthen it's been in the mid 90s....and I cannot imagine being here in June/July/August, and am so grateful we decided to do this big trip NOW before I am back teaching and could only go on school vacations (huge crowds) or summer (HOT and huge crowds).

And hearing we went to Hollywood Studios, you are all probably wondering, did we make it on Toy Story Mania...Since we've been here I've overheard people who claim to have gotten to the park when it opened and have not been able to get on (or the wait has been HOURS) and that within minutes the FASTPASS line is over an hour just to get a FASTPASS. Well...we knew it would be extra busy today as there is a Fantasmic show tonight (only 3 this week). We took the first boat from our hotel at 8, and got to Hollywood at 8:10 - YES, 50 MINUTES BEFORE THE PARK OPENED. We were 2nd in line for security, gave the boys a snack and drink, used restrooms, checked show schedules, and were 2nd in line for tickets. Around 8:50 we were let to the rope drop area and we were in the 3rd row of people. As soon as the rope dropped, we went as fast as we could (and yes people were RUNNING). We got there and heard the worker announce, "Wait time for Toy Story Mania is now ZERO minutes, and that's the ONLY time today I'll be able to say that." We were one of the first 15-20 people on the ride. IT IS FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Needless to say they need a 2nd one!) When we got off the ride, the wait was over an hour and fastpasses were being issued for afternoon times.
We then went to see Little Mermaid - fantastic! When we came out we saw that the fastpasses for Toy Story Mania were now being issued for 4:30-5:30 pm. It was not even 10 am. People who want to ride it or get fastpasses for morning times need to not arrive when the park opens, but BEFORE the park opens - WELL BEFORE IT OPENS - to get on the ride or get fastpass for morning times. It was SO WORTH it!
The boys played in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground (they loved it!). We went to the 11:30 showing of Beauty and the Beast (WONDERFUL!!) and then ate lunch at Pizza Planet. What a treat for our boys!! Here are two photos from Pizza Planet, one where the sign is showing, and then another with our two Buzz Lightyear imitators!

We then took the 10 min boat ride back to our hotel and spent the afternoon at the pool. It is gorgeous!!

We are going to dinner at Flying Fish (Boardwalk).

Tomorrow we will return to Hollywood for a few hours to do Toy Story Mania again, possibly meet Woody and Jessie (or if the line is too long, we will wait and see them in Frontierland on Wednesday at Magic Kingdom), see the Playhouse Disney show, play on the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground again, see the Walt Disney film, and see the 3D Muppets Show. Then we will be back at our hotel to use the pool.
We are having such a WONDERFUL time :) This is THE BEST!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Day 5 Disney - Epcot

Happy Mother's Day!
What a perfect way for my mom and for me to spend our Mother's Day!
She is the most wonderful Grandmother. She would not have missed this opportunity to be at Disney with her 2 grandsons for anything! It is so incredible to see the MAGIC of Disney through the eyes our our two boys/her two grandsons.

We spent the morning at Epcot. We were there for rope drop! It is an easy 7-10 minute walk from our hotel (or we can take a boatride, about the same length of time as walking).
The boys so loved the Nemo ride and Turtle Talk With Crush (amazing!) on Wednesday evening that we went to that first. We were the FIRST people on the ride and rode it 3 times in a row with no waiting in line. We then saw Turtle Talk with Crush (again) which was fantastic! We toured The Seas and that was great! We then went to Imagination, where we rode the Journey into Imagination Figment ride, and the boys explored the labs. At The Land we ate lunch at Sunshine Seasons (delicious food choices!) and then watched The Circle of Life show. We went inside "the ball" on the Spaceship Earth ride, and then headed back to the hotel where we spent the gorgeous afternoon (91 degrees and sunny) in the hotel pools. They are phenomenal. Donovan even went down a water slide.

We returned to Epcot, and ate dinner at Teppan Edo (Japan). It was similar to Koto's Japanese Steakhouse which we all love. The food was DELICIOUS. After dinner, we walked around The World Showcase at Epcot. In Norway we rode on Maelstrom. We walked along the Boardwalk on the way back to our hotel, which was neat.

We are watching the Epcot Illuminations (fireworks) from our hotel (what a view!!) Tomorrow is Hollywood Studios!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Day 4 Disney - Magic Kingdom (again)

Back to Magic Kingdom again. The boys seemed to have more stamina today (even after a LONG day yesterday and a late bedtime). Aaron dozed for about 45 min in the stroller and Donovan rested on the ride home.

All that researching paid off!! Who would have ever thought MK would be NOT CROWDED on a SATURDAY!! Way back in January when we were planning the trip, I saw that Friday and Saturday Magic Kingdom would be closing early (at 7) due to "Grad Night" (local high schools that graduate reserve MK for their students). There is not an evening parade and fireworks on these nights. Between earlier closing, no parade, and no fireworks, the park was predicted to be less crowded than usual, and indeed it was. What a treat for us!

Today we went on ALL the rides again (Pooh 3 times, Dumbo 2 times, Buzz Lightyear 3 times in a row WITH NO WAIT (compared to later in the day when there was a 60 min wait!), the Carousel, Peoplemover, saw the Mickey Philharmonic 3D show again, a show in front of Cinderella's Castle, rode Aladdin's Magic Carpets (3 times), took a jungle cruise, and explored the treehouse. Ended the day with a train ride.
We ate lunch at Pinocchio's House, and dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern here in Magic Kingdom. Great!

Tomorrow is Epcot, afternoon at the pool, and dinner at Teppan Edo.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day 3 Disney - Magic Kingdom

First of all let me just say we are all having the time of our lives! I do wonder how I thought I'd have time to blog and post photos! I also think Rupert underestimated how exhausting (in a totally wonderful way), Disney would be with two 4 year olds - he was in bed last night at 8 pm with the boys! At this point I'm just hoping to be able to share where we went/what we did and a few photos. I'll go back once we are home and edit these with more details and do captions for the photos.

Today we spent the day at Magic Kingdom. Pure Magic, that's for sure!
We arrived around 8:30 and they were letting people into the park early. (Not extra magic hours, just letting folks in early...)
We went right to Pooh's ride and both boys loved it. We rode Dumbo twice.
We went on Buzz Lightyear Spin and while both boys loved it, Aaron requested to go a 2nd time, while Donovan requested going over to the racecars.
The boys LOVED the race cars, as we knew they would!
We went on the carousel, It's a Small World (DONOVAN LOVED IT, and we went twice), and went to see Mickey's Philharmonic Show which was Fantastic!
We ate lunch at Crystal Palace with Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore. Great!
After lunch we went on Pirates of the Caribbean, Magic Carpets of Aladdin (where one of those darn camels spit on Mommy and Donovan TWICE!). We rode Aladdin twice.
We saw the wonderful parade.
We rode the Tomorrowland Transit/Peoplemover twice and Donovan LOVED it.
We ate a quick dinner at Cosmic Rays and then rode the railroad around the park.
We are now back at the hotel. Exhausted, but in the best way! Back to Magic Kingdom again tomorrow.
The weather was gorgeous and is in the high 80s, low 90s all the days we are here.
I am posting photos from today.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 2 Disney (Animal Kingdom)

Today we spent the day at Animal Kingdom.

I was really looking forward to this. We loved the Xiangjiang Safari in China with Aaron, and wanted Donovan to have a similar experience.

We arrived about 20 min. before the park opened and were able to go right to Africa to the Kilimanjaro Safari Jeeps. It was AWESOME.
Then we went right over to Lion King. We had heard it was one of the best perfomances at Disney. It did not disappoint!
We got to visit with the characters, walk around Discovery Island and Oasis.
We had a nice lunch at Pizzafari.
Then, after lunch went to the Flights of Wonder show - INCREDIBLE!
We walked the Maharajeh Trail and saw tigers.
Aaron fell asleep in his stroller, and we spent a little time in Dinoland. Donovan, Rupert, and I rode Triceratops Spin (fun!)
We had a great spot for the parade at 3:45
We ate dinner at Rainforest Cafe just outside Animal Kingdom. Fantastic meal!

I've heard from many people to plan to do Animal Kingdom the first day before the kids experience all the RIDES at Magic Kingdom. I am glad we did Animal Kingdom on our first full day. Also, they just had Extra Magic Hours yesterday morning, so the park was less crowded today. (Loved those online crowd predictors!!)

We plan to come back to Animal Kingdom on the last day. Our flight does not leave until 5 pm and our car is picking us up at 2:30, so we have from about 8:30 - 1:30 to spend at Animal Kingdom on that last day. Knowing we would be coming back on our final day, we did not have to rush today at all. We have time to do the things we skipped today: Nemo Performance, Triceratops ride again, Safari Jeeps again, walk the Pangani Trail, ride the Rafiki Train to the Conservation Center, and lots more digging in the Boneyard...

We had a wonderful day here at Animal Kingdom.
I can say though that we are exhausted by day's end, and I likely won't post many photos until we are home!