More Than Magical

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ride in a parade through the streets of Magic Kingdom with 100,000 people watching you and waving to you? Apparently this a thing that can actually happen to an average person.

My family had just walked into Magic Kingdom and of course had to do the stereotypical picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle. As we were trying to figure out how to get a picture with everyone in it, two Disney cast members approached us and offered to take the picture for us. Of course we accepted. Little did we know that those two people would totally change our day and our Disney experience forever. After lots of dialogue and questions back and forth with the two cast members, they proceeded to ask us if we would like to be the honorary Grand Marshals of the Festival of Fantasy parade. The first picture above shows our reaction when we were first asked. Unbeknownst to us, they had a photographer capturing the entire moment.

I’ll be honest, I really had no idea what being a grand Marshall of the Festival of Fantasy parade in Magic Kingdom truly meant. It was a much bigger deal than I had expected.

We all met back at the predetermined location later that afternoon. Those same two cast members were there ready and waiting for us. The first thing they did was gave Mickey ears with “Grand Marshals” embroidered on the back. The photographers were there as well. We were quickly told what would happen but I still had no idea what this was experience would be like for us . The entire moment was surreal. We were ushered back into a cast members only area. We loaded into this beautiful car and were told to smile and wave the entire time. As the main cast member instructed, if our mouths and arms don’t hurt by the end, then we didn’t do it right. The gates opened and we were on our way.

Next was the surreal part. The entire streets of Magic Kingdom were roped off. There were nearly 100,000 people lining the streets. We were well ahead of the parade and the only thing on the road. The entire crowd began waving and smiling at us. At this moment over the entire loudspeaker of the park, our family name was announced; “our honorary grand marshals of the Festival of Fantasy parade is the Handley family from South Florida”. They proceeded to make this announcement multiple times through the entire route. As I am smiling and waving to the crowd, I felt like I was in a dream. Everyone was looking at us.  Everyone was waving at us. It was probably one of, if not the coolest thing that has ever happened to me and my family. We ended the route but it was not over.

The cast members had roped off a special location for our family to watch the parade. They were literally kicking people out of our area as it was specially roped off just for us. The amazing and cool thing is that not only did we had a photographer shooting the entire moment, but everyone in the parade, all the characters; Belle, the Seven Dwarfs, Mickey, Minnie, etc. were all paying attention to us; waving to us and talking to us. I’m pretty sure this is exactly what it feels like to be a celebrity. The parade ended, but there was still one last thing.

Our paparazzi photographer (as they called it) took us to Main Street in front of Cinderella’s castle. From there she took a ton of awesome photos of our entire family. This moment was bigger and better than I had ever imagined or expected. This moment in our lives and our Disney experience, was more than magical.

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Scenes from the Weekend

Trey nana and papa Lunch with Dee Friday Night Lights Football Huddle Prayer Football Everglades Sunset Cup in the Sun Ray Cooking under the lights Coffee in the Hammock SwingBeachClouds

It was the first weekend in October and it is officially fall, I guess.  Living in south Florida gives fall a whole new meaning.  Let’s just say that this was the first weekend where the heat wasn’t scorching, the temps stayed in the mid 80’s and there was a great breeze.  This meant that we could actually stay outside without sweating.  It was amazing!  I was outside every chance I could get.  Here are a few pics from the weekend.

  1. An after game pic with Nana and Papa.  Look how long his legs are!
  2. Taco lunch with my college girl.
  3. Friday night lights.
  4. After game huddle.
  5. Everglades sunset at the football game.  Sunset was beautiful, getting eaten alive by bugs was not so nice.
  6. Sunrise and coffee.
  7. Family cookout.
  8. Coffee in a hammock swing may be the best way to start the day.
  9. The super moon brought clean waves.
  10. Sunny days and sun rays.

 

 

 

Scenes from the Weekend :: Celebrating 41

Wings are Served Steve Deep DiscussionSteve Laughng Hysterically    Nell Crab Legs Steve and Papa Watching GameNell and Nana Selfie Papa with Silly HatFull Moon before Eclipse Friday Night Lights  Dee Home Mom with crocheted Hand SockButterfly Boil Beginnings Backyard Work in Dress

 

The hubs turned 41 on the 27th.  In true Steve fashion, to celebrate, the decision was made to lay low, hang around the house with family and friends and cook his most favorite meals.  I am a busy body, always wanting to be on the go but I have to admit that the chill birthday weekend he planned was perfect. I had the best time and went into the new week nice and relaxed. Here are some of the pics from our weekend.

  1. Special homemade wings and some football watching.
  2. Good convo with he in-laws.
  3. LOVE this! A true belly laugh. This pic makes me smile every time I look at it.
  4. CRABS! Cooked my famous seafood boil.
  5. “Watching” football.
  6. Selfie with my favorite lady.
  7. Crochet experiment gone wrong.
  8. The blood moon before the eclipse.
  9. Friday night lights.  Trey’s team won 32-20!
  10. SHE CAME HOME TO VISIT! I miss her face so badly! (having grown kids is harder than I expected)
  11. The successful crochet sock for mom’s arm.
  12. Backyard butterfly. I call these the bumble bee butterflies.
  13. Seafood boil beginnings.
  14. Landscaping in a dress.  Why not?

High School

Trey Permit First Highway Drive Trey First Day of School First Game Number 47 First Varsity Game
First Game Take a Knee

My not so little boy has made it to high school.  He practiced football and conditioned hard all summer in the 95 degree heat with 80% humidity to make the varsity team at a local private prep school.  I am proud to say that as a freshman, he is playing second string linebacker (#47).  This means Friday night lights for this family every week, and man, we are loving it.  He also got her permit and is driving.  I have to be totally honest and say that he’s already driving better than me but that’s really not saying too much (I’m not the best driver in the world).  He has signed up for some exciting, yet hard classes at his new school.  Classes are underway and he is tackling them head on.  We are beyond excited and thankful to God for the amazing opportunity that our son has at this new school.  The sky is the limit and we are beyond proud of is dedication, hard work and passion.  I have no doubt that he will go very far.  Football, driving, and a brand new school; it’s going to be a great year!

Costa Rica Day 4 :: Explore

Big Wave Dee Crashed on Beach Dee Gazing on Rocks Dee in the Sunset Dee Running up from Beach Dee with Hands up Epic Sunset Nell in Cave Nell Jump Nell on Rock Nell under Short Palm Nell Victory on Rocks Steve and Trey Out in Water Steve Catching Wave Steve Running into Ocean Steve throwing Dee in Water Trey Catching a Wave Wave in SunsetSteve Gazing at Ocean from Patio

Well if you made it this far, then you managed to look through the ridiculous number of photos I posted.  The good thing (for memory purposes) is that I literally took 2,000 photos on our Costa Rica trip  The bad thing is that I took 2,000 photos on our Costa Rica trip and have to go through each and every one of them.  Honestly, there are just so many good pics from this trip that it takes me at least two to three passes through the photos to decided what to post.

Well, anyway, here you are.  This is day 4 of our Costa Rica adventure.  We rented a house in the Punta Leona gated resort with no rental car.  This wasn’t really an issue since the resort had two amazing beaches, 800 acres of rainforest, restaurants, stores, etc.  But, hey, we figured we should head off the grounds to explore a local town at the very least.  We chose to get a taxi and head to Jaco (pronounced Ha-co).  While the town was a great place to shop for souvenirs and eat a nice authentic Costa Rican meal, there wasn’t much else to rave about.  To be honest, we were pretty disappointed.  But that was ok because we were able to not only begin the day with a quick exploration of the caves at low tide, but also catch probably the best sunset I’ve ever seen while body surfing 5-6 foot waves.

Costa Rica, you never disappoint.  What a great way to end the day watching the sky being painted with the prettiest of colors while having a blast in the beautiful ocean.  Perfection.

Costa Rica Day 3 :: Rainforest Adventures

Nell Zip Lining Upside DownDee Canyoning 2 Dee Zip Line Small on Big Mtn Dee Zip Lining Upside Down Handleys in Zip Line Gear Monkey Middle of Palm
Dart FrogMonkey on a Palm Nell and Dee Riding Horses Rainforest Nell and Dee Riding in the Rainforest Nell Canyoning 2 Nell Canyoning Bottom View Nell Canyoning Nell on Horse Drinking  Steve and Trey ATV Top of Mtn Steve and Trey Top of Mountain Steve ATV Face Steve Nell Dee Waiting to Zip Line Steve Upside Down Zip Lining Steve Zip Lining Trey Canyoning Trey Zip Lining Upside DownNell Looking Over Balcony

 

Everyday in Costa Rica was amazing but day three may have been just a tad better than the rest.

We were told by many as well as read online that you will most definitely see wild monkeys in your backyard.  Up to this point, we had seen parrots and exotic birds but no monkeys.  I will honestly say that I was getting quite disappointed.  On day three, this all changed.  Steve was out on the patio just looking out at the ocean.  The kids and I were inside getting ready for the day.  Steve storms into the house yelling, “Nell, monkey’s!  Nell, monkey’s!  Nell, monkey’s!”  We all raced out to the patio and he was not joking. There were about 30 adorable little white face monkey’s migrating through our backyard.  There was the alpha male in the far left palm tree calling out to the others. There were even a few mama and baby monkey’s.  I probably took 50 pictures but only posted two here.  It was amazing to see.  They were everywhere and just so dang cute!

After watching the monkey’s in amazement we went out on our big rainforest adventure.  One of the coolest things about this trip is the timing.  We timed it perfectly and totally by accident.  Apparently, we were in Costa Rica during the rainy season and during the lowest season.  It was perfect!  The reason why?  Well, one reason is that we went to the 850 acre rain forest adventure park (Ocean Ranch Park) and we were literally the only people there.  How crazy is that?  We ended up getting a private tour with two guides and had the entire rainforest park to ourselves.  Dee and I rode horses to start while the boys rode ATV’s.  We all did waterfall canyoning which is much tougher than it looks by the way, but a ton of fun. Then it was off to zip lining.  Honestly, we added the zip lining on after the fact as we didn’t initially set out to zip line since we had done it before when we went to Mexico.  Man, we were so glad we did. We thought the waterfall canyoning would be the coolest part, but we were wrong.  The zip lining was totally the best.  I really believe it was because we were the only people there and instead of doing just 2 or 3 zip lines, we got to do all 10 with the last one being a half mile long and well above all the rainforest trees.  Also, I am totally convinced that you can live forever if you are stuck in the rainforest.  Every remedy you could ever need resides in this beautiful place.  There was everything from a Bengay plant (it literally smelled like Bengay when you broke the branch), war paint leaves, dart frogs (poisonous frogs used by warriors to rub their poison on their darts) and cancer treatment roots.  I was blown away.

What a spectacular day!  Of course, everyday ended with us peering off the patio overlooking the ocean.  There was nothing more relaxing and peaceful than just sitting there watching the sun set and listen to the waves crash.  Pura Vida!

Costa Rica Day 2 :: Explore

Dee and Trey in water Dee and Trey on Rocks Dee and Trey over Pennisula Dee Big Palm Playa Blanca Dee Floating in Water Dee in water Playa Blanca Dee Ohm Underwater Dee Running Road in Rainforest Dee Running Up from Water Family on golf cart Famous Palm Nell & Dee in Water Playa Blanca Nell and Dee over Pennisula Nell and Steve on Rocks Nell Flying from Beach Nell Hanging on Palm Nell on Road Rainforest  Nell Walking down Playa Blanca Over Pennisula Palm Shadow Playa Blanca Rock on Beach Up Close Steve in water Playa Blanca Steve on Playa Blanca Steve Walking Away Playa Blanca Steve waving from House Patio Sunrise over Mountain Sunset Day 2 Trey in Rainforest Trey in Water with Mask Trey on Rocks Trey on Steves Shoulders Trey Walking behind Playa Blanca Trey walking Playa Blanca Tropical Bird on Beach

Day two was spent exploring. And man, we had no idea just how much there was to see.  We rented a house but the house was on the grounds of an 800 acre gated rainforest resort (Punta Leona).  Our adventures included checking out two beaches; Playa Mantas and Playa Blanca, rainforest trails, golf cart trails, multiple swimming pools, local snacks, etc.  Everything was incredibly lush  and tropical.  The beaches were amazing especially Playa Blanca. It was perfect-o. Playa Blanca was separated by a rock structure in the middle where one side was flat for snorkeling and the other side had surfable waves.  The sand was pure white and there was a snack bar with delicious piña coladas. It really doesn’t get any better than this!

Costa Rica Day 1 :: First Impressions

Alligators SizedView from Patio No Rail Steve and Trey Beach Day One River View Pennisula Day One Nell and Dee Hug Beach Day One Nell and Dee Beach Day one

The ride from the main airport (San Jose) in Costa Rica is far from either coastline.  This was just fine for us as we booked a private driver to take us from the airport to our rental house on the central Pacific coast.  The lengthy drive of two hours allowed us the opportunity to take in the countryside, stop at the river to see the dinosaur sized alligators, visit delicious fruit stands and stop at the grocery in the afternoon rain storm.

Once we got to the resort, we were wowed with beauty.  It was a tropical oasis like I had never seen before and that says a lot as I live in tropical south Florida and have been to Hawaii twice.  Lush doesn’t even describe the views.  The view from the house that we rented certainly didn’t disappoint.  The view in reality far exceeded the pictures.  As I looked at the view of the Pacific Ocean from our patio for the very first time all I could think was, man this looks so much like Hanalei Bay in Kauai; horseshoe bay on the Pacific Ocean. I couldn’t take my eyes off this beautiful view.

As I mentioned from my previous post (Costa Rica Day Pic of the Day 1), there were several things learned from our first day.

  1. The grocery stores are intimidating.  Literally everything is in Spanish and we are most definitely a no hablo español family.  It took me a good 10 minutes to find the salt in the spice isle.
  2. The bugs are ginormous! You can see the segments of an ant in great detail from a standing position.
  3. The sun starts to rise at 4:45 am.  The sun glaring in your window by 5 am means that you get up really early.  I am most definitely a morning person so this made me a happy girl.
  4. The sun sets at 6 pm. Love this!  It means that we can go to bed early (by 8:30pm).  Woo hoo!
  5. Falling asleep to the crashing waves and sounds of the rainforest makes for the best sleep of all time.  Listen at the link below.  There is nothing more peaceful to fall asleep to than this.

https://soundcloud.com/nell-handley/costa-rica-rainforest

Costa Rica Pic of the Day 6

Costa Rica Big Wave

Day six; the last full day in Costa Rica.  What a fantastic adventure!  Life certainly has many ups and downs.  I’m so glad I get to experience all of them with this guy by my side.  Costa Rica, you were certainly one of the ups in our life.  Can’t wait to go back and explore more of this beautiful country.  Pura Vida!

Costa Rica Pic of the Day 5

Trey Looking at Ocean from Rocks

Being out there in the ocean, God’s creation, it’s like a gift He has given us to enjoy.” -Bethany Hamilton