Wishes And Pixie Dust

Follow the journey of a Wisconsin family of 4 who relocated to the Walt Disney World area in July 2011

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Happy Anniversary

Just a quick blog to wish my beautiful wife, the love of my life, a Happy Anniversary.  You are my whole world and I love you more each day.  You’ve made my dreams come true and make new dreams come true every day.

A song we’ve listened to very often the last 10 weeks says it better than I ever could.  You are the best thing I never knew I needed!

"Never Knew I Needed"
Ne-Yo & Cassandra Steen
Princess and the Frog OST

For the way you changed my plans
For being the perfect distraction
For the way you took the idea that I have
Of everything that I wanted to have
And made me see there was something missing, oh yeah

For the ending of my first begin
(Ooh, yeah yeah, ooh, yeah yeah)
And for the rare and unexpected friend
(Ooh, yeah yeah, ooh, yeah yeah)
For the way you're something that I'd never choose
But at the same time, something I don't wanna lose
And never wanna be without ever again

You're the best thing I never knew I needed
So when you were here I had no idea
You're the best thing I never knew I needed
So now it's so clear, I need you here always

My accidental happily
Ever after, Ohhhh
The way you smile and how you comfort me
With your laughter
I must admit you were not a part of my book
But now if you open it up and take a look
You're the beginning and the end of every chapter

You're the best thing I never knew I needed
So when you were here I had no idea
(When you were here)
You're the best thing I never knew I needed
(That I needed)
So now it's so clear, I need you here always
(Now it's so clear)

Who knew that I could be
(Who knew that I could be)
So unexpectedly
(So unexpectedly)
Undeniably happier
Sitting with you right here, right here next to me
Girl, you're the best

You're the best thing I never knew I needed
Said I needed
So when you were here I had no idea
(When you were here)
(Said I had no idea)
You're the best thing I never knew I needed
(That I needed)
So now it's so clear I need you here always
(Now it's so clear)
(So clear, so clear, I need you always)

Now it's so clear, I need you here always.

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The Princess And The Frog

In Wisconsin we had a ritual on Saturday night:  we would eat a dinner of pizza while sitting around the television and watch a Disney movie.  We did this for years, ever since the children were toddlers, and weren’t quite able to participate in eating pizza yet. 😉  When we moved to Florida, we needed to adjust our plans somewhat and forgo pizza night, as one) we had no television, and two) we had no furniture.  We are happy to report that we now have both a television and furniture, but we’re discovering that Saturday doesn’t exactly work the best for us, as we’re usually in a theme park that day.  So we’ve decided to be flexible with the date, and tonight was our pizza night, while we watched, of course, The Princess and The Frog!

We originally chose The Princess and The Frog as this blog’s theme as a way to conceal our identities until we were ready to announce who we are.  The movie fit our family’s dynamics well, but the selling point was Louis, because our daughter just loves alligators. It’s funny, because when we first saw the movie, it didn’t seem all that good, and we weren’t sure if we were even going to buy it.  But we did, and now it’s one of our favorites.

We were at Port Orleans Riverside on our daughter’s birthday; she saw this and we picked it up for her as a present.  Kissing would be nice, yes?

You can imagine our delight last weekend when we were able to do a character meet and greet with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen.  Naveen is no longer a regular with Tiana, so we were thrilled to be able to come across both of them together:

We started our blog on June 7, 2010 on Blogger (if you go to March archives and scroll back, you can see all our earlier posts), and then made the jump to WordPress in March. We initially started it for ourselves, as documentation of our move, and as an ongoing record of what we had completed and what we yet needed to complete.  We were thrilled when our readership jumped, and we saw that our progress was helping other people with their own moves. Our readers comments have helped us to make decisions along the way, and we are grateful for all the feedback and suggestions we have received.  We are blessed to have made friendships over the past few months; friendships that probably would not have existed without the blog, and we are doubly blessed to continue these friendships in person.

Our blog has always been about relocation, and the issues and concerns regarding it.  We have never been, nor don’t intend to be, a Disney blog.  There are many Disney blogs out there; we follow a lot of them, and we don’t feel that we could add anything unique to what’s been written.  Now that we are settled, honestly, we don’t have much to write about regarding the relocation process, and at this point in time we feel like our blog has served its purpose.  You can find a list of our favourite blogs (and podcasts) by reading our blog on Getting, and Staying, In The ‘Disney Mood’.

We will keep the Facebook page, Wishes And Pixie Dust active, as well as our website that contains our blog, as we hope it will help those who are still in the relocation process.  We may post occasional blogs to the site, but generally we will not publish regular posts.  It’s hard to set aside something that has been a part of our lives for 15 months:  in one form or another, we both have been actively involved in Wishes and Pixie Dust, whether it be blog writing or website development or researching information.  But it’s time to let go and move on.

We welcome our readers to contact us on Facebook or Twitter if they have any questions regarding relocation, and we’re happy that you have been a part of our life over the past fifteen months.

May you have a magical, pixie-dust filled day, and remember the words of Walt Disney:

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

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Living Life In Florida

When we were planning our move to Florida, we were excited at the possibility of our expenses being lower than in Wisconsin.  Now that we’ve been here for over six weeks, we thought we would take a look at our actual expenses and share them with our readers. For a reference point, our apartment is 1,389 sq feet.

  • Our monthly rent increased by $186; however, we are no longer responsible for lawn care.
  • Our monthly cable bill for phone, internet and television decreased by $5.
  • No more gas bill (averaged $35-45 in summer; $300 in winter)
  • Our electric bill is $220, which is not bad considering we haven’t been careful about our usage, we had many pool days which means more towels to wash, and it’s summer 🙂  We expected it to be less, but it’s less than it would be in Wisconsin.
  • Our income increased because there are no withholdings for state income tax.
  • The biggest change is our water bill.  In Wisconsin we were paying $135 monthly. In Florida we paid $8.64.  We do expect the bill to go up for September, as the meter was read August 5 for the water, which resulted in only 12 days of water, but we don’t expect it to be a significant amount.
  • Our gasoline usage has increased significantly, due to the fact we are approximately 40-50 minutes away from Disney (one way), Clermont is much more spread out than Fond du Lac was, and approximately an hour’s worth of gas is used daily for bringing the kids to and from school.
  • Groceries are approximately 15-20% more expensive here than in Wisconsin, and significantly lacking in a variety of dairy products 🙂  We find that we shop at four different grocery stores:  Winn-Dixie, Publix, Sweetbay and Target, which is an extremely different routine for us.  (We’re used to shopping at one, and we’ve really been missing it lately).
New bills for Florida:
  • Disney annual passes are $150 per month
  • Pest control fee is $1 per month
  • Valet trash fee is $15 per month
  • Sunpass:  this varies on how often we go into Orlando, but in six weeks since we’ve been here we’ve spent $17.50 in tolls.  It will go down considerably from here on because we’re not using the Turnpike as much now.
So are we paying less in expenses than Wisconsin?  No, but we’re not paying more, either. It all seems to equal out in the end.  We do acknowledge the fact that if we were renting a house, we would be paying more in expenses; in terms of lawn care, pool upkeep and a higher bill for pest control.  We’re quite satisfied with the apartment complex and love not having the responsibilities that renting or owning a home entails.  We recognize that apartment living is not for everyone, but it suits us perfectly.  


Update On School

We want to update our readers on how school is progressing for our children.  We confess that this is a major hurdle that made us hesitate about relocating to Florida.  How would the schools in Florida compare to those in Wisconsin?  Our son is special needs and has an IEP in place, so we needed to make sure the level of services he receives in Florida would be comparable to what was established in his Wisconsin IEP.

We attended the open house the Thursday afternoon prior to the start of school.  We made sure to inform all the teachers that our children were new, because quite frankly, it was a little overwhelming for them.  We received the schedules, and then went room to room to meet the teachers.  The school has three buildings; the first building is the office, but the other two buildings hold the classrooms.  Here is a view from the bridge that connects the buildings:

Their new school is approximately twice as big as the middle school they would have attended in Wisconsin.  On days when there is lightning, and let’s face it, this is Florida, so probably a weekly occurrence :-), they have “lightning lockdowns” where the students are not allowed to go between buildings if it is storming.  It is interesting to note, however, that even though there are over 1,100 students attending here, the average class size is between 22-25 students, which is lower than what they would have experienced in Wisconsin.

We discovered that information is not given freely here to new families arriving.  At open house, we questioned his advisory teacher, and discovered that Ben was just to be dropped off at school.  At this point in time, we were grateful that Catie attended the same school, as she is able to walk Ben to his aide.  However, we were not informed exactly how long the line gets at pick-up time.  We’ve discovered that we need to leave the house at 3:15 for a 4:00 dismissal time, just to stake our place in line.  It would have been nice to have learned this information at open house, and thus help Ben avoid the couple of meltdowns he had while waiting for us to progress through the line that first day.

Overall we feel school is going well for the children.  We’ve had a couple of bumps with Ben, but they’ve been easily resolved, and we feel his teachers are committed to making sure he succeeds.  Catie was able to get into a chorus class, which she was thrilled with.  We do wish that orchestra was offered here, as Catie plays the violin, but we knew before we moved that it was not, and of the two, chorus is a better option.  Catie has a gift for singing and aspires one day to pursue this professionally.  The school is monitored closely: identification is required to pick your child up from school early–they do check it against the computer records and require a signature– and a note is required for an excused absence upon return to the school.  A little more strict than what we’re used to, but it’s all good.

If you are planning to relocate to Florida, we recommend researching and contacting the schools prior to your move, to get a feel of what they might be like.  You can usually tell from contact with the staff the atmosphere of the school.