Finding the Magic in the Magic Kingdom

Our first full day of Disney Magic began in the Magic Kingdom. We had made very special advanced dining reservations to have breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table at 8 AM. This allowed us into the park before actual ‘rope drop’ and was entirely worth it!

We awoke early and prepared for the day. Hopped on our Art of Animation bus to the Magic Kingdom and enjoyed the sunrise over Seven Seas Lagoon. We watched the ferry boats starting to cross the water to gather passengers and waited in absolute excitement.


We had read before leaving that the Magic Kingdom Railroad would be down for refurbishments and the opening show had been changed, so we were prepared. The magic truly starts before you even walk in the gates. I cannot express how amazing each cast member is…if only all customer service was so good!

Upon entering the gates, we walked into the Main Street USA square and caught our first glimpse of the castle. It was everything I had hoped for – amazing, beautiful, whimsical…I teared up a bit! We were able to make our way down Main Street USA, take some great family photos and make our way to Cinderella’s Castle.


The area is really beautiful, with benches tucked away, fountains, and flowers. We were greeted at Cinderella’s Royal Table by women of retirement age in renaissance style costumes (I know where I am going to retire!). We checked-in for breakfast and made our way INSIDE the castle to meet Cinderella, herself. It was a whirlwind, but wonderful.



Meeting her first princess! Look at that smile 🙂


Then we climbed the spiral stairs to the dining room. The decor was regal and comfortable. The food was delicious! A starter of mixed pastries and great coffee had me falling in love. We met Snow White, Aurora, Jasmine, and Ariel.




When our breakfast was over, we made our way back down to the Castle corridor. The Welcome show had already begun on the Castle stage, but we had a perfect spot to watch from the corridor and we were the only ones there (other than cast members). They allowed us right up to the rope and we got to wave to all the characters that had been on stage as they returned to the castle. We all decided we had a much better view and were so happy to not be stuck in the entrance crowds.



Now to the rides! Our very first ride was…



It’s A Small World


It is iconic and fun for the whole family, but it also showed the kids the beginning of rides as compared to the fast, technologically advanced thrill rides of today.

I then enjoyed a grand ride on the Prince Charming Regal Carousel with our daughter.



After that, it is a blur of fun! I know we rode The Little Mermaid Ride, Seven Dwarves Mine Train, Mad Hatter Tea Cups, Astro Orbiter, Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway, People Mover, Magic Carpet Ride, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain….I am sure I am missing some.


Our kids’ very first coast ride was Seven Dwarves Mine Train. It was amazing. Super fun, with great theming.


One of the best shots from our trip! Seven Dwarves Mine Train


After a day of play, we spent our evening in my Restaurant pick – Be Our Guest! I am a HUGE Beauty and the Beast fan! I feel I am a ‘Belle’ type and my husband has a wicked awesome beard (and is possibly a little stubborn)…close enough right.

The meal was fantastic. The whole atmosphere was elegant and so well themed…and YES! the Grey Stuff is delicious!


As dinner ended, Wishes fireworks began and it was a remarkable finalé to a magical day!



I love reliving our magical memories! We are already talking about our “next” trip 🙂




#HoucksMagicalDisneyHoliday2017 – Day 1

WARNING: This whole trip review will come in time over multiple posts….be prepared to read and see lots of photos! You have been warned.


It is hard to believe that we left for our big Disney vacation a month ago! After all the pre-planning, planning, and travel – the trip went by so fast, yet the memories fill me with joy each day.

We left our home, in Brookings, SD, on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 with all of our luggage in tow, to spend the night in Sioux Falls, SD. Our flight left FRD airport at 5 am and we didn’t want to drive so early in the morning. For getting up at 2:30 AM, our family was pretty chipper and excited for our trip.


The kids had never flown before and they were bouncing with nervous energy. Honestly, we had very smooth travel. We had enough time between flights to eat at our connecting airport and everything worked like clock-work. (I am SO thankful!)


Upon arrival in Orlando, we made our way to the Disney Magic Express check-in. With the swipe of our wrists, we were in the queue for our hotel bus. The Motor Coach was comfortable and played Disney cartoons for the kids (of all ages).  It was a nice 30 minute trip to the Art of Animation resort.



We picked this resort for it’s Nemo Suites, which were just the size we needed, the value, and the great transportation system – and we were NOT disappointed.

Here is a look at our Suite:

Table holds a Murphy bed.


We were also right next to the BIG Blue Pool! And our first order of business was to take a dive before dinner in Disney Springs.



After a quick shower, we were off to Disney Springs to look around and enjoy dinner at Morimoto Asia. This was my husband’s choice of venue  – he is a ramen lover, Chef Morimoto fan, and we wanted to try Wagyu beef for the first time.



We called this our early 5 year anniversary dinner.



Disney Springs is a great area that I would frequent often if I lived in the area. Stylized promenades full of specialty shops, eateries, and great outdoor seating for what seemed like miles. We purchased our Mickey/Minnie Ear Hats, enjoyed the Lego store, and stopped by Amorette’s Patisserie for treats.





Hardest decision of the day!

After a full-day of travel, we were happy to be in Disney, but retreated to our room early to rest well for our first day in the actual parks – Magic Kingdom!


More on our Disney Adventure to come!


Moving Past the 1st Test


Did you know that the number 40 is mentioned 146 times in the Bible? The number 40 generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial, or probation. This is what my first 40 days of sobriety were, though I don’t feel that I have yet hit my greatest temptation.

The changes I have seen after 40 days:

Relationships – My marriage is the best it has ever been! We are communicating more, spending more time together, and I feel like we are really partnering on big decisions that affect our family. Friends are roughly the same, I don’t feel I have lost contact with anyone based on my decisions. In fact, most of my friends (near and far) have been very encouraging.

My children are receiving more of my time and attention because I am home more and you can see the difference in their behaviors. We spend more time playing games, reading books, and just hanging out.

Money – I definitely see my pocketbook having a little more filler these days, though I can always find a way to spend it, I feel that the items I purchase now have more meaning and function.

Health – I am down 5 lbs. I haven’t really changed my eating habits much. I am drinking more tea and Le Croix waters when I don’t want tap water. I am sticking to my yoga and meditation routine which feels so good. (I actually miss it when I don’t do it.) I am able to do shoulder stands now and am pushing deeper into my yoga practice. I feel stronger, physically and mentally. I am also loving my Pilates/Barre class on Thursday nights – it is a great time to get away from my daily routines.

This weekend my bestmate came to visit. It was the first time I had gone out to the bars since I quit drinking. It went very well. Not every establishment offers N/A beer or ginger beer, but I was able to find something non-alcoholic to enjoy. The bar scene is certainly different when you are the sober one, but it wasn’t bad. I felt I got more out of the conversations with my friends, I still laughed until I cried and had a great time with people I love.  At the end of the night, I got everyone home safely. I went to bed, got up about my normal time and felt great. I am enjoying that a lot!

I may have passed the first trials, but I am preparing for more so that I don’t lose sight of the goal. Life has been great without alcohol and now I know I can hang out without feeling tempted.

Hope your 2017 is going well! Make this year a personal journey.





2 Week Review

I received my 2 week digital-chip yesterday. It is still a bit odd for me to think about, but it is an accomplishment. Even if I only drank one night a week or once every other week before, it was a coping mechanism. I would go out on evenings when I was feeling the most stress. Along the way, I made great friends and even now look forward to talking with those friends when I can. 

I made it through my first pub visit and drank water – thank you to my pub family for all your support and being my surrogate livers for the next 50 weeks. I love these people deeply and even while not drinking, I feel a little empty when I don’t see them for awhile. 

I have thrown myself fully into my yoga practice. I do a yoga routine almost every morning. At night before bed, I yoga again and have been working on supported shoulder stands – I held it for a minute thus far.  I have also started a weekly Pilates/Barre class (12 weeks) and enjoy the added challenge. 

Harney and Sons Tea has been a life saver. As a 1 week gift, I ordered some great teas that I drink daily (trying to reduce caffeine too!).  And with no effort on my part, I am down 6 lbs. – even though I am PMSy and bloated today.  

Side note: Murphy’s Law states then when your cycle is irregular, the one time it decides to be on target is when you plan to be on your dream come true vacation!  Seriously! 😂 I can’t make this stuff up. 

I have been doing a lot of reading, journaling, looking deeper at myself and working to build new coping mechanisms. It has brought my husband and I closer and for that I will be forever grateful!

Well, we are off to Disney soon – I will hit my 3 week while at Epcot – another humorous juxtaposition since I had looked so forward to drinking around the world.  I guess I will be sharing snacks with my kids and really that is who this trip is meant to be about. 

I will live with love and ease. 


Day 6 – #sober2017

Just received my 6 day chip this morning – almost have this first week in the bag. 

I feel great thus far. I am drinking more water and teas (Trying to also cut back just a bit on coffee/caffeine). I am planning to get a Kambucha starter kit and start making that for my craving of carbonated beverages once in awhile, as I don’t really drink sodas. 

Benefits so far:

Sleeping better! – I have had more regulated and deeper sleep. I am able to wake up at 5:45 each morning without issue to start my day. I take this early time to read a devotional or the Bible (personal choice) and do a great morning yoga flow. 

Less joint pain! – Thank God! I was worried I was going to be hobbling through Disney World. The yoga and lack of alcohol sugars have decreased joint swelling and are giving me a larger range of motion, pain free, each day. 

A little more time and money – I am a busy woman and I actually feel less busy because I haven’t had anytime stolen from me by hanging out with friends at a bar. I even decided to start building a LipSense business – Snow White may envy my red lips. 

Eventually I do want to make more time to hang out again, but I know I need to get settled into my new routine in order to persevere when the temptations come. 

Speaking of temptation – I was very much looking forward to drinking beer in Epcot that I couldn’t get around here. I am a bit saddened by this, but again I want to be enjoying my family and not be looking for the next beer cart with something I’ve never tried…maybe next time Disney 🙂 

I am excited for my first Dole Whip! Only 13 days to go. 

Oh – and I am down 2.8 lbs so far. Yay!


Day 2 – #sober2017

I had a good cry last night and talked to my husband about all my feelings that brought me here. If nothing else, I’m sure the daily journaling will help me complete my novel. 

I found a sub reddit- r/stopdrinking and made a profile and my first post. I also downloaded the NoMo app to keep track of my days and chips. 

Day 2 also marked my first invitation to drink and me being able to say, “no thank you but thanks for the invite.” Granted, I already have plans for my afternoon to take my daughter and her bestie to a movie. But it was my first of many “no thank yous” and that is a good hump to get over. 

One Year – One Day At A Time

Working for my 48 hour chip.