Friday, June 28, 2013


A couple of things:

1. Have you heard? Probably you have. Lots of times. But, just in case, Google reader is going away very, very soon. Like July 1. This is very sad, but the good news is there are alternatives! I've been using Bloglovin' and, now that I'm used to it, I can barely remember why I care that Google reader is dying. Lots of people like Feedly, too, I hear. Both of them are set up so you can import all your google reader info easily. I have a button over there on the sidebar if you'd care to follow me on Bloglovin'. I probably should get one for Feedly, too, but I haven't yet. But I trust you can type boxy colonial into some box or other over there and get things all set up.

2. I'm thinking, since the whole internet is in upheaval anyway with this google reader thing, of doing a switch to Wordpress. Partially because it's more customizeable and all that kind of thing, but, honestly? Also because Dave is trying to build up his portfolio of programming work (he used to be a web developer before teaching and would like to get back into it with some freelance work/possibly an eventual career change), and that would be a good way for him to learn about Wordpress and get some experience with it. And, you know, that way I'm not the one who would have to figure the coding parts out.

But I am not committed yet. I'd love to hear, if you are a blogger and you use Wordpress (and especially if you've switched from Blogger), what your thoughts about the whole thing are. Tell me!

3. Dave's mom will be in town for awhile starting tomorrow, so I may or may not be scarce. I will have to blog at some point about the awesome thing I bought today, of course. And Dave is making something. But it's slow going. And we will be doing Fun Summer Activities with Nana, so there'll be stuff about that sometime. But, anyway, if I'm not here much, that's why!

4. Here's a picture of Abe because a. he's cute b. there aren't any pictures in this post otherwise c. he can sit up and play with toys like a big baby now! Also he got a tooth the other day.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Let there be light! (and also hot water)

Warning: wordy post ahead. And the pictures I DID take for it, I forgot to take until it was dark out, so they suck. Sorry. oh! But then I put WORDS on the pictures to at least make them hilarious for you. HI-larious.

Perhaps the times when I wish the most for unlimited wealth is when something important is broken. Broken things make me panic. They make me want to go hide in my bedroom and throw money at them until someone else fixes them. It's not really rational. It's not even a little bit rational, really; I feel like things must be put completely on hold and that nothing good can happen to me until the broken thing is fixed.

But actually, I can also err in the other direction when it comes to broken things. Sometimes broken things are unessential enough that I cope with them by pretending they don't exist for, say, a year. The light in my sunroom was one of those kinds of broken things. Back to that later.

But the hot water heater is a full on panic sort of broken thing. And ours stopped working last week. That's right: we had TWO broken things in the house at the same time.

The timing was suspicious. It happened the very same day the HVAC guy came out to inspect our furnaces, one of which is right next to the hot water heater in the basement. And then, a few hours later, Ari asked, "why does the water just run and run and not get warm?"

Why indeed? Because the pilot light was out, we discovered. Dave called the HVAC place and they assured us that their guy would never, ever have done anything to the pilot light, but....yeah. Suspicious timing. Dave tried to light the pilot luck. This very same thing had happened before we moved in. The pilot light would come on but not stay on for any length of time. We assumed this had something to do with the gas having been turned off for months or years. Someone or other finally managed to light it, but we couldn't remember if they'd used some special trick or if it had just happened.

In my panic, I pretty much was ready to immediately get a new hot water heater. There was no time to try to fix this one! We needed showers! We needed to wash diapers! We needed to run the dishwasher! RIGHT NOW!

Fortunately, Dave is able to hold himself together in these situations better than I am. He took the following steps:

1. try following the instructions for lighting the pilot light approximately 300 times.
2. call suspicious HVAC people to schedule a service call to calm wife's panic
3. google
4. decide what we need is a new thermocouple; call to cancel service call
5. buy said thermocouple
6. attempt to install thermocouple, only to be thwarted by a stripped screw holding on the panel that hides the old thermocouple (Dave tells me this panel is called the "manifold" and I have no reason to doubt him)
7. get very frustrated
8. try lighting pilot one more works this time!

Kind of an anti-climactic ending. If the pilot ever goes out again, we might not be so lucky. We think it really needs a new thermocouple. But we can't get that screw out to get to it. The hot water heater's eight years old, though, so we're just hoping the pilot stays lit until it dies completely.

And then there was the light in the sunroom.

I've mentioned this light a few times, but I've never told the whole fascinating story.

When we moved in, the fan and light worked just fine. But then, not longer after, the fan kept on working, but the light stopped coming on. More precisely, it would flash on for a split second when we flipped the switch, then go back off.

This wasn't a huge problem back when the room was Gable the shaggy sheepdog's hangout room, but once we started using it, we wanted some light.

We had an electrician out a few months ago to look at several things, this ceiling fan included. We wound up paying the electrician a hefty service fee and having him do nothing of value, because everything was WAY more than we expected. For this fan, for example, he told us the problem was that it was missing the remote and that he'd be happy to get us a new one....for $180. Umm. No.

Instead, what we did was, every once in awhile, usually when someone was visiting who expressed some interest in electrical troubleshooting (once my father in law; more recently my brother), we climbed up there and tried to figure out what the problem was. Oddly, this never made the light start working again. It all looked fine.

Now, at this point, what with my love for throwing money at broken stuff whenever possible, you'd think we'd just go get a new fan, right? Had this been a hideously ugly fan or a super dated fan or a boring builder grade fan, we probably would have done that a long time ago. Perfect excuse to pick out a fun fan!

But I liked this fan, and I suspected it was relatively pricey, as far as fans go. And, you'll recall, we just gave all of our money to Disney World.

With my brother's troubleshooting assistance, we decided that a new remote was, indeed, the right thing to try, and a quick online search revealed that, as I'd suspected, $180 was an INSANE amount to try to charge us for this remote.

The top of the fan listed a model number, which helped us track it down online:

It's a "Hampton Bay Ponte Vecchio 52 inch natural iron" ceiling fan. See? It's Italian; I was so right about how fancy it is. Italian things are automatically 40% fancier than their American equivalents. It's still for sale on Home Depot's website for $229. So not, like, a ceiling fan a movie star might buy or anything, but on the expensive side for a fan you pick up at Home Depot. And I like it. 

The new remote and receiver (which, on this fan, goes up in the very top, in that part that attaches to the ceiling, rather inconveniently. If the ceiling were any higher, we'd have needed the expensive electrician who probably has a really tall ladder after all) cost not $180, but $30. We got a generic Hampton Bay one; they had a couple of different ones to choose from. Installing it was easy and self-explanatory. We should have done it a long time ago! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fancy Lady and the Hound

Sometimes you come home from the thrift store with something so BEAUTIFUL that you have to write a whole post about it. And sometimes you come home with TWO really awesome things, so you write about the two of them.

The other day Dave was all, "we need to get out of the house and do something; let's go to Lowes!" And I was like, "I will go to Lowes with you, but only if we get to go to NFCC first." So we did.

And that's where I saw fancy lady. She is so fancy that I paid like $13 for her, which is more than I usually spend on my thrift store art.

But look how pretty she is!

It's frustratingly difficult to show you exactly how pretty she is because I can't get a picture without that reflection in the glass. I don't know how to make it stop. STOP IT, REFLECTION! Stop diluting my fancy lady's beauty!

According to someone's handwritten note on the back, it's called "The Satin Gown."

She's just sitting around reading a book in her satin gown. Isn't that the sort of thing you do, too? Maybe you are not fancy enough for that. Too bad for you. Reading while wearing satin gowns is pretty much all I do. Her sofa is the color my sunroom walls would be if blue bonnet were actually blue.

There's a piece of paper taped to the back which reads, in flowery handwriting, "This was chosen by Hazel Sherwood (Interior Decorator, Chicago) to be hung first in our home (1951) Glen Ellyn, Ill, then our homes in Van Wert, Ohio; 2 in Fairhope and finally in Mobile." LOVE it. I'm going to go write on the back of every picture in my house now, in order to charm whoever winds up buying them at a thrift store someday.

I haven't been able to find out much else about it. There's no signature as far as I can tell. I found it on one auction-type site, where they let me know that they would tell me the value if I just signed up on the site first. I don't need to do that, because I already know that the value is probably around a million dollars. Because it's so FANCY.

The Fancy Lady is hanging out above the fireplace in the sunroom for now, and I think she's probably staying there.

I feel a little bad for amazing find #2, because I think I'd be a lot more excited about him if it weren't for my Fancy Lady. The Fancy Lady has taken up so much room in my heart that there's just not that much leftover for.....Solid Brass Hound:

I left his price tag on in this picture so you could see that he's SOLID BRASS and that no one would pay $20 for him or even $10. Which means I got him for $7.99.

He's very regal. I suspect that if the Fancy Lady has a dog, he looks a lot like this guy. He's in the dining room for now, but he might move into the den eventually. I am developing a bit of a thing for brass animals. It might get kind of creepy around here pretty soon, with the brass animal menagerie I'm accumulating. (oh! Brass Menagerie! I didn't even do that on purpose!)

Linking with:
Monday Funday

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Disney Series, Part 2: Where to Stay? Off Property vs. On

If you missed the first entry in this series on what time of year is best for your trip, check it out here.

Not so very long ago, in this very blog, I said that I strongly preferred staying on property at Disney World because it's more magical.

I'm ready to say now, after our second try staying off property, that I can really see some non-magical but still important upsides to staying off property, particularly with a baby and/or a bigger family. I'm no longer willing to make a blanket recommendation that everyone should stay on property if they can swing it financially. We had a really good off property experience this time around, and I'll be mightily conflicted next time we go about which route to take.

How about some pros and cons?

Pros of staying on property:
1. Disney transportation: this is potentially a very big deal if you fly in. We drive, so it's not as big of a deal for us. We don't need to rent a car either way, and we tend to drive more often than use the buses even when we're on property. If you're lucky enough to be staying in a monorail resort or in one of the walking distance to Epcot resorts, this is an even bigger deal. Also, even if you drive while you're staying on property, you don't have to pay for parking anywhere. And the cost of parking every day for a week is nothing to sneeze at ($14/day, I believe).

2. Proximity: not actually as clear cut as you might expect. Some of the places off property are pretty much as close to the parks as some of the farther out on property resorts. You can easily find somewhere less than a 10 minute drive from Disney property. Again, if you're able to stay in a deluxe resort very close to Magic Kingdom or Epcot, things are different.

3. Extra magic hours: if you're staying on property, you can stay late or arrive early to certain parks on certain days.

4. MAGIC! You're just more immersed in the whole experience if you're staying on property. You forget the outside world exists. Everyone is incredibly friendly and helpful. It's impossible to buy gum (true story: they don't sell gum on Disney property). This can be a great thing, if you love magic, or a bad thing, if you're a black-hearted, cynical human being. Just kidding. Not everyone wants magic 24/7, and that's okay.

5. Free dining (and other discounts): this is the one that usually reels me in. If you go during the off season, when great discounts are being offered to on property guests, on property prices can start to compete pretty well with off property. You can always save money by staying somewhere off property with a full kitchen and making most of your own food, but if you plan to eat out most of the time either way, free dining can really close the on vs. off property price gap. For a few years it seemed like it was all free dining all the time more or less, but now it looks like it's headed back to just being offered for short periods in the fall.

Cons to staying on property:
1. Price: this is the big one. Really, if you have unlimited funds, get yourself a room (or two! if you have kids) at the Polynesian or the Beach Club or somewhere and have a great time. But most people don't have unlimited funds, and Disney hotels cost more. Lots more. The cheapest hotel room you can get on property is at one of the value resorts. The lowest those rates get are $85/night + tax. You might be able to get 15% off on top of that, assuming you aren't doing another discount like free dining. That's for a nice, clean, but tiny hotel room with 2 double beds, maximum 4 people (plus a baby in a crib; you can't put a rollaway in there). For the same price, you can get a nice 2 bedroom condo with a full kitchen 5 minutes from Disney property. Or for half that you can get a decent, no frills hotel room close by.

2. Space: I talked about that a bit up there, but, yeah....if you want room to spread out, you can get it (affordably) off property.

Personally, I am normally a stay on property and suck up all the magic kind of person. But being able to leave the parks when it got crowded and hot, come back to our big ol' rental house and let the big kids swim while the baby took a nap....that was really nice. As was being able to eat a lot of meals at the house, because eating out twice a day with a 4 month old is not exactly relaxing.

We were also able to save money on boarding the dogs by finding a place where they could come with us (except for Fiesta; she stayed with my mom. But my mom only keeps small dogs, which leaves out Lucy and Gable).

We were really pleased with the house we rented, so I'll give them a shout out. We stayed at Luxury Stay Rentals 4 bedroom house in Indian Creek (they also have a 5 bedroom in the same neighborhood). The house was nice and well maintained, rates were reasonable, their local property manager was friendly and helpful, and it was pet friendly (the property manager also does petsitting, so they can come and walk your dog during the day for an additional fee).

As for what we'll do next time? After I wrestle with the internal conflict? Yeah, I don't know. When Abe is older and we're back to being able to do all day in the parks without a break, using the room mostly just to crash at night, I might well be back on property. Especially if we go during free dining. I am a sucker for all the magic, after all. But it will be a tough choice.

And now....Day Two! Our Animal Kingdom day and also Milo's 10th birthday! We were there for both Ari and Milo's birthdays.

First up we stopped by Guest Services for a birthday button. They're FREE
and they don't even check that it's really your birthday. But it was. Milo's birthday.

He wanted to ride Expedition Everest as many times as possible for his
birthday. I think we made it to four. I told them to look scared so I could
take this hilarious picture.

No one can accuse Animal Kingdom of not being themed enough. This is from the Everest queue.

Safari--the lion was out!

Flights of Wonder: baby's first bird show

Finding hidden Mickeys at Conservation Station

Also petting a goat.


I promise that Ari was there even though he's not in any of these pictures. We closed out the night at Boma, Dave's favorite restaurant in the whole world and Milo's choice for his birthday dinnner.

Linking with:
Monday Funday
Tatertots and Jello's Weekend Wrap-Up

Friday, June 21, 2013

Painting the Sunroom

The sharper eyed among you might have noticed in Wednesday's pinwheel post that the yellow is finally gone in the sun room! But you can't really tell what color it is in that picture, because it's so, so light. It's the lightest I've ever painted a room, ever. Some people are afraid of color; I'm afraid of white walls. And these walls aren't white! But they're closer than I've ever come before.

Dave was startled when I pointed to the color on the card. "THIS one?! Are you sure? It's almost white." But, I mean, it's a sunroom, right? I wanted something cool and light and airy, with the idea that most of the color in the room would come from accessories and whatnot (eventually. We have very few of said accessories and whatnot at the moment).

We started out, as you'll recall, here:

This is before we bought the house. Same yellow paint as everywhere else in the house and a giant leak above the door on the far end there.

We had the leak repaired (and the skylights--suspected source of leak--removed and drywalled over) before we moved in. And then we put a dog crate in it and left it that way for a year:

In the past few months we've made some progress in here. We refinished that big ol' dresser that's up against the windows in that picture. And we moved the dog crate out and some real furniture in so that we could hang out in here.

The next order of business was to finally get rid of both the yellow and all that bare drywall from the leak repair.

My paint selection method was pretty simple: I took the card from the paint I used on the big dresser (or, as Dave would say, credenza), (which was Benjamin Moore's Florida Keys Blue) and picked the lightest color. Which, it so happens, was called Blue Bonnet. This led me to expect it to be more, than it turned out to be. It's a really light blue green, but, if pressed, I'd call it green rather than blue. But, then, the Florida Keys Blue dresser is the same way. Most of the time, I'd call it blue, but in certain lights it's definitely green. I'm going with aqua, because that's what I had in my head that I wanted.

This room took forever to paint. It is very big. And we had to paint the ceiling, which is also very big. And three of the four walls are mostly windows, which meant less surface to cover with paint, but also lots and lots of painstaking brush work.

We did primer first, which is not our usual way. But it was clear from the test patch I put on the wall that it was going to take at least 2 coats otherwise, and primer is cheaper than paint. Plus the internet tells me that my paint job will look way more professional with the help of primer, and if the internet says it it must be true.

Two days later, we had this!

It's so light you're not really sure what color we painted it, right? Yes. It's a big, minty box.

You can see the color a little better from this angle, I think:

Here's a beginning stab at colorful accessories and whatnot. That little thrift store lamp (I recognize the shade from Target, but I got it at the thrift store) is the only source of light in the room, still, but we have a plan that might actually work for fixing the fan light. Saving that for another post.

With the dropcloth curtains down (they need to be hemmed and cut into panels before they go back up), you can see what rough shape some of the window are in. I'm scared to hear how much it will cost to replace them.

And, because I don't want to do a whole post about it, I got unlazy enough to move the pinwheels into the dining room and throw together some 4th of July-ish stuff on the buffet in there. I kept bringing in more and more books, so I'm pretending an American literature theme was my plan all along. Mark Twain is heavily featured. I want to switch out the flowers for president cards, but....uhh, well, I haven't yet.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Quick 4th of July Project!

I'm always on the lookout for crafts even I can't am unlikely to screw up. So when I came across these super cute pinwheels awhile back on Circusberry, I pinned them immediately:

....and then, a couple of days ago, I did something even better: I actually MADE some! Crazy idea, right? You pin something and then you make it. 

As part of my ongoing attempt to become a seasonal decorator, I decided to crank out some 4th of July themed pinwheels. I went to Hobby Lobby and came home with this stuff:

4th of July-y scrapbook paper, decorative brads, and paper straws. I wanted just plain blue or red straws, but the most neutral I could find were these black chevron ones. Now I can have a fashionable and environmentally friendly kids' birthday party with the extras! 

I just followed along with the Circusberry tutorial. If I don't make any sense, go over there and see what she says!

1. Cut out a 4 or 5 inch square from your scrapbook paper. This is where I realized that the tutorial called for double sided scrapbook paper. Oops. More on that later. This first pinwheel was not double sided.

2. Draw lines diagonally across your square.

3. Cut along the lines toward the middle, leaving about 1/2 inch uncut.

4. Poke a hole through the middle and in the left corner of each triangle section. I wasn't sure what to poke holes with, so I, uhh, found this thing in my silverware drawer and used it. It worked pretty well. Be careful; it's sharp!

5. Fold each hole-poked corner down toward the center, one at a time, inserting the brad through each layer (so you're kind of tucking each new layer under the one that comes before it, working the brad from the outside in). Once you have all the triangles folded down, poke the brad through the center hole.

6. Hardest part! Paper straws are tougher than they look! Flatten one end of the straw and poke a hole through it. Insert brad through this hole to attach the pinwheel, spread the tabs out, and you're done!

Okay, so then I thought, "you know what's pretty much the same as double sided scrapbook paper? Two sheets of scrapbook paper taped together with double sided tape!" 

So I did the rest of them like that. Same process, only taping the two sheets together first.

Super easy! Once I got going, I could do one in maybe 5 minutes. 

Then I tossed some other stuff together (stack of books!) and made a display. Said display is supposed to be in the dining room, but I was too lazy to clean off the buffet before I took pictures. I'm pacing myself.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Abe at Five Months

Five months sounds SO big; so much older than four months. Sniff, sniff. And this past month seemed to fly by, probably partly because we were out of town for a week of it. Another rainy 17th to make photography challenging. I took a million or so pictures, but the vast majority were out of focus, owing both to the bad light and the wiggly baby.

Abe had his four month check-up a few weeks ago, and he was in the 70th percentile for weight and......20th for height. Fat little peanut! My other babies have all started out way up in the 90-100th percentile for height and then mostly just stayed there, so it's a new experience having a little guy who still fits in his 3-6 months stuff at 5 months.

He's starting to be able to sit up for short periods, particularly if you give him something to hold onto, which makes for a little variety in photography. He's sitting unsupported in that picture up there, with the big seal to hang onto for emotional support. When he's upset, he'll usually calm down immediately when he hears music. Balls are his favorite toys. He spends a lot of time staring intently at his brothers, ready to flash a giant grin at them as soon as they look at him. He still takes a lot of 20-30 minute naps, but sometimes he'll mix it up with a good 2 hour one, so I'm still hopeful he'll start to appreciate long naps more soon. No signs of creeping or crawling yet, which is probably just as well since there are no signs of the kind of babyproofing around here that that will necessitate either. Nothing new to report on the teething front: much drool, no teeth.

I had a grumpy (he's had a bit of a cold) baby to contend with on top of the bad light, so....well, here's what I managed to get:

Obligatory seal picture. Also, the white t-shirt is back! I found it! Still fits pretty well.

The saddest baby in the world.

It was Ari's month for solo pictures, but I wasn't thrilled with any of those, either. But I got some nice ones at Disney, so it all works out.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Disney Series Part 1: When to Go?

What I really want to do with my life--what I want to do for a living--is I want to be at Disney World. I'm good at it.

Not really. I am misquoting Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything there.

It turns out that being at Disney World is an even less realistic career goal than kickboxing.

But I do love Disney World. And we've been an embarrassing (cough*six*cough) times in the past several years, and, what with my weakness for obsessive research and all that, planning Disney trips (and, yes, being at Disney World) is one of the things I'm best at. This is a little sad. Because some people are best at coming up with new cancer treatments or feeding the world's hungry or writing the Great American Novel. Not me! We all have to work with what we're given.

So I thought I'd spend some time this summer babbling about Disney World. Stuff that might be helpful if you're planning a first (or first in a long time) trip, particularly one with kids. I'm thinking every Monday for the next six weeks, with these topics:

1. When to go? As in, time of year
2. Where to stay? Off property vs. on
3. Disney with a baby
4. Big(gish) families and Disney
5. Saving money
6. Food: dining plan, favorite restaurants, plus bonus gluten free fun

It just so happens that the trip we just took was 6 days, so, instead of a separate trip recap, I'll do a quick one day by day with each of these posts.

Okay! So! When should you go to Disney World?

This is kind of a sad question for me, because, even though we homeschool, we are tied down to the school schedule thanks to Dave, the teacher. Thanks a lot, Dave! At his old county, he had a very special fall break, around the third week of September, so we always went then. This year we decided our best option was to take off as soon as we could when Dave finished school for the year, right after Memorial Day.

So this is what I have personal experience with: September and late May/early June.

Now, the two big things to consider when you're deciding when to go are crowds and weather. And, of course, when you CAN go, if you are tied down to a school schedule like we are. There's also cost, but that's pretty much directly tied to crowds (i.e. prices are lower when it's not crowded).

Touring Plans maintains a day by day crowd calendar, giving each day (and then breaking it down to each park for each day) a crowd level of 1-10, going out for the next year. You need a subscription ($11.95/year to see the whole crowd calendar (and to access other features like the touring plans and the lines app with wait times). We've used Touring Plans for a few trips now, and it's a great resource.

Easy WDW is a free site with a good guide to best and worst times to go.

Basically, as you'd expect, any time school is out, it's crowded. So summer, spring break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and President's week.

So, if you can, you want to avoid those times. According to both Touring Plans and Easy WDW, September is pretty much the least crowded time you can go (I did a quick search of days rated as "1" for crowd level for the next year on Touring Plans. There are 31; 14 of them are in September). No one wants to pull kids out of school right after they start back in the fall AND it's still super hot and humid in Florida in September.

All of our trips except this past one have been in September. Our first couple of trips we felt like we had the parks to ourselves half the time. This was 2006-2007. I have pictures of my kids in front of the castle with pretty much no one else in the picture:

You have to work a lot harder these days to get this shot. There's really not a truly uncrowded time of year to go anymore. 

On the plus side, another thing to note is that Disney is set up to handle crowds so well that you can avoid long lines with a bit of planning almost any time of year. The parks can feel fairly crowded but you're still walking right on to Tower of Terror. We've gone to Six Flags on an ordinary summer weekday and only managed to get a few rides in because everything loads so inefficiently that there's nothing you can ride without waiting forever. 

So. September has a lot going for it: it's cheap (the rates for hotels are the cheapest all year, and, for the  past several years, Disney has offered the dining plan for free every September, which is a really amazing discount for a lot of families. More on that when I talk dining) and it's one of your best bets for low crowds. It's not unusual to walk on to all the rides except for the big headliners all day in September. This makes it very easy to do the big rides first thing or use Fastpasses for them and then be able to relax and enjoy an unplanned rest of your day. Or let your kids ride the Teacups 5 times in a row if they want to. That kind of thing. The big disadvantage (aside from the fact that you may not be able to go then if you have kids in school) is the weather. In our experience, Orlando Septembers are remarkably consistent: it's between 88 and 92 or so every single day, and it rains (briefly) more afternoons than not. We find the heat unpleasant but's often cloudy, so that helps, and you're going in and out of buildings all day as opposed to just standing outside baking. But we're from Georgia. YMMV. 

Other relatively uncrowded times of year are later in the fall (excluding Thanksgiving week), early December, post holiday break January into February (excluding President's Week), and then again after all the spring breaking is over up until schools start to get out in mid-late May. 

If we ever get a non-school-constricted trip, I'd love to try early December (low crowds + Christmas decorations!) or late January/early February. Generally speaking, you'll get pleasant weather in winter, but I also have friends who've gone during a cold snap and been miserable. At least you know what you're getting in September. Unless you get a hurricane. Which can happen. 

But then suppose you DO have to plan around school? The option we went with, and the one I'd do again, is to go at either the very beginning of your summer break or the very end. In our part of the country, schools get out in late May and start back up again in August. In the northeast, they go well into June, but don't go back until after Labor Day. So if you hit the very beginning of your summer break (if you're in one of the finished in May parts of the country) or the very end (if you're in one of the post Labor Day returning parts), you won't be competing for space with as much of the rest of the world. 

Our late May/early June week this year was mostly 5s and 6s on the Touring Plans crowd calendar. Our September trips have all been mostly 1s through 3s. We could definitely feel a difference, but it was doable. We very rarely waited longer than 10 minutes for rides, although it took more planning to avoid long waits than it would have in September. But the very next week, the crowd levels shot up to 8s, and they're supposed to stay in that 8-10 range until mid August. I wouldn't want to see a 9 or 10. It would make me cranky. Of course, the downside is, again, going to be the weather. Our May/June was pretty comparable to September....actually a few degrees cooler, but I think it's been an unusually cool spring. 

I have so much to say. I don't really know how to shut up, because Disney is a bit of an overwhelming topic, really. But, there. Shutting up. And moving on to part 2 of my ridiculously long post: trip recapping! More pictures, fewer words. In fact, no words! Except the captions.

We didn't have park hoppers this year, so it was one park per day for us. First up was Epcot. It's possible that Epcot's my favorite park. It's sort of hard to say. I love them all so very much. 

Abe about to go on his very first ride...ever! The Seas with Nemo and Friends. We were the first
ones on all day (because Dave went to get Soarin' fastpasses and then met us over there instead of us riding Soarin' first like the masses). The guy out front had to tell someone into is little walkie talkie thing: "first guests are coming in!" We felt pretty important.

THEN we road Soarin'

First Mickey bars of the trip!

World's cutest baby in world's cutest sun hat. But no Mickey bars for him. Next time!

There's a fun game in Innoventions involving this cute pig. It's supposed to teach you about investing and stuff, but I'm just in it for the cute pig.

Mid day break to swim and nap back at the house.

Back to the park for evening fun.

And of course, many posed pictures. Look how happy they always are to stop and pose for pictures for their mother!

Abe learns a lot about plants on Living with the Land.

You can sample Coke products from around the world at Club Cool. Like Beverly from Italy. It's fun to trick your kids into trying it. 

How about another picture, kids?!

Doing the Phineas and Ferb interactive....thing in World Showcase.

Norway gift shop. We're not even a tiny bit Norwegian, but he's totally pulling it off, don't you think?

We didn't buy these. Too bad.

Ending Day 1 with Illuminations. Abe's first fireworks!

Phew! Part 1: complete! Anyone have any Disney tips to share? Any topics you'd like me to cover that's not on the list (I will talk FOREVER about Disney World!) What's your favorite Lloyd Dobler quotation?

Linking with:
Give Me the Goods Monday
Inspiration Exchange
The Shabby Nest's Frugal Friday
Tatertots and Jello Weekend Wrap Up Party
Monday Funday