Wishes And Pixie Dust

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


A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes

As we usher out the old year and ring in the new, we thought it a perfect time to update our readers on our life in Florida.  It seems unbelievable that last year at this time we had no idea that we would be spending our next Christmas as Floridians.  It’s funny how a dream seems to kick into gear just when you least expect it to.

Is Florida life everything we expected it to be?  Yes and no.  The weather is as incredible as  we imagined and knew it to be, and really, the weather in late July and August is not unbearable.  There’s something very satisfying knowing that the temperatures will not drop into the 60’s in August.  Wisconsin summers can be very fickle, with 90’s one day and 60’s the next.  We have definitely been enjoying the ability to walk outside and not worry about grabbing a coat.

We approach visiting Walt Disney World differently as locals, rather than tourists.  There is no need to visit every day, nor attack the parks commando-style.  When we go, it is at a leisurely pace and we simply do what we want to that day.  We’ve learned that it is not necessary to go when it is raining, or when it is crowded, because the parks will always be there for us to enjoy.  This week in central Florida all the theme parks are extremely busy, and have even closed due to capacity issues.   We originally were thinking of attending this weekend, but have since reconsidered.  Why put yourself in the middle of the insanity if you don’t have to?

So what’s there not to like about Florida?   We have been struggling with the school system with both our children, but most specifically our youngest son.  We’ve discovered that there is very little tolerance here for children with special needs.   One of their beliefs is that the student needs to adapt to the classroom environment, and there is no consideration for accommodations being made for the student by having the classroom environment adapted for the student.  Any kind of physical contact is prohibited and results in instant suspension.  High-fiving another student will result in a week long lunch detention.  Hugging another student is considered sexual harrassment.  And in Ben’s case, if you involuntary swing your legs in the classroom and unintentionally kick another student, it is considered careless and malicious intent.  We have discovered that even with an IEP, parents have very little leverage in the process, and we feel right now it’s best to remove Ben from public school and homeschool him the rest of the year.  This was not a decision we took lightly, but at this point in time we feel the public school is doing Ben more harm than good and he definitely needs to be removed from that environment.  We’re not sure what the next school year holds, if we will try public school again, but we have time to make that decision.

We were blessed that our oldest son Nick was able to fly down and visit with us for a few days over Christmas.  It was very hard to say goodbye, however.  The past couple of days we have been questioning our dream, if it was worth it, with the issues with the school (none of which would have happened in Wisconsin), and the heartache of having Nick leaving and not knowing when we’d see him again.  There have been other smaller concerns not discussed in our blog (mainly because they were to some point expected and not a major concern for us, such as the lack of dairy items in the stores and the higher cost of living) and it all kind of struck us at once.

We have come to realize that our dream did not end once we arrived in Florida.  Our dream was not to move to Florida and enjoy Disney.  Our dream is to move to Florida, enjoy Florida and live our lives out here.  It would be easy to give up now, justifying moving back to Wisconsin citing various reasons.  However, God did not move us to Florida for a few months to enjoy Disney.  His plans are purposeful, and as much as we love Disney, we’re fairly certain that’s not the reason we’re here 🙂  A dream is not always a bed of roses, even when you live 22 miles away from the magic of Walt Disney World.  Life still happens, and not how you planned it.  You can either embrace it, or you can run away to where you feel safe.  We are still in the adjustment period, and it may very well take another year before everything seems normal.  Our mantra is to embrace what we have, enjoy life to the fullest and erase the doubts.  We will always look back to Wisconsin, because we have friends and family there, but Florida is home now.

We will be shutting down our Facebook presence on December 31.  We will be keeping our blog open here and posting occasionally.  A huge thank you to all our readers who have followed our journey and supported us through the planning of the move and the relocation itself.  We have been blessed to meet a few of you and make new friendships; it’s nice to know we’re not alone.  (Sometimes it sure feels like it!)  May God bless your families and give you a prosperous and healthy New Year!  Y’all are in our hearts.

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Four Parks, One Weekend

When we were first planning our move to the beautiful state of Florida, one recurring theme that kept surfacing was the anticipation of being able to visit the parks at a moment’s notice.  As we’ve mentioned before, what we envisioned as a short drive to Walt Disney World can actually take us anywhere from 35-55 minutes to arrive, depending on traffic.  We try to schedule our Disney trips in on Wednesday afternoons/early evenings (kids have early release from school) and the weekends.  School and homework commitments always take priority over our fun time at the parks, and there really isn’t sufficient time on a normal school day to drive over two hours round trip for an hour in the park.  This past weekend was a three-day weekend (end of the first grading period for the kids), so we were able to squeeze in an extra day at Walt Disney World.  It was not our intention to visit all four parks this weekend; just happened to work out that way!

We rely on the WDW Lines app (downloaded to our smartphones) when we decide which park to visit.  (Please see touringplans.com for more information).  It is an excellent resource and well worth the small investment:  it rates the individual parks based on how crowded they are expected to be, list show times, and estimated wait times for all the attractions.

We decided Saturday to visit the Animal Kingdom.  Believe it or not, this was our first visit to AK since our move in July, mainly because we didn’t feel a need to roast ourselves in the hot Florida sun.  For us, Animal Kingdom is by far the hottest park.  We know others may disagree, but we knew there would be plenty of cooler temperatures in the upcoming months, and we were fine with delaying our visit.  We were thrilled to see how close the parking lot tram brought us to the entrance, as we were used to quite the hike when we stayed on property and used Disney transportation.

[As a side note, one of our ‘wants’ is to stay on Disney property at each of the resort hotels.  We have decided that when this happens, we will use our own vehicle and not the Disney bus transportation service.  We much prefer using the parking lot and trams:  it is more convenient and less stressful.]

Ben faced his fear of Expedition Everest:  he first tried it in 2007 and quickly placed it on his list (of things he was afraid of!).  It is now a must-do attraction at Animal Kingdom!  He absolutely loved it!  Yay Ben!

Sunday was a Magic Kingdom and Epcot Day:  Epcot, because of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, MK closes at 7:00.  We chose to take the monorail over to Epcot for a couple of hours.  Magic Kingdom is by far our favorite park, and while it can be an inconvenience to have to take a ferry boat or monorail from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom, most days we enjoy the magical approach as the way Walt Disney wanted it to be.

Naturally, this left Disney’s  Hollywood Studios for Monday; this is our second favorite park:  Rock N Roller Coaster, the Tower of Terror and Star Tours are absolute must-dos. We went into the 5 & 10 store on  Hollywood Boulevard for the first time ever, and discovered a lot of things that we would love to have for Christmas…:=)  Thought you might want to take a look too!

Toy Story Mania is also one of our favorites:  we always joke with Ben that he so needs to stop coloring on the walls, and that we’re going to have to take his crayons away :=)

We have been asked:  what is the best thing about going to the parks now that we live here?  We would say the ability to enjoy the parks and really take in the theming of the attractions and surroundings, without feeling the need to rush around and do it all.   Walt Disney World isn’t going anywhere, and neither are we–we have plenty of time to explore and enjoy everything it has to offer.




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Fall & Halloween Doings

Welcome Fall!  I love this picture, because it reminds me so much of the season of Fall in Wisconsin.   At one of our houses we had huge trees just like this in our front yard, and when I say there were leaves to rake……..we had piles of leaves four feet high!  I miss the smell of crunching leaves underfoot as you walk along, and the distinct fall aromas:  the leaves, the cool crisp air, the bonfires at night, that if close enough, fills your house with a smoky smell.  We always went to The Little Farmer at this time of year to pick out our pumpkins, apple butter, muffins and pies, and go on a hayride.  I will definitely miss the hayrides through the woods, even though it seriously messed up my allergies.  There is nothing like a fall forest hayride in Wisconsin.

This picture was taken last fall, before we knew we were moving.  Little did we know it would be our last trip there:

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where you can witness the fall colors, enjoy it a little extra for me 🙂

There are several different farms/orchards in Lake County that appear somewhat similar to The Little Farmer, which I’ll list here:

Long & Scott Farms in Mount Dora

Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest in Eustis

Stanley Pond Adventure Pond in Astatula

Uncle Donald’s Farm in Lady Lake

Right now Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest in Eustis seems to be the best option to try.

We’re not sure what we plan to do for the day of Halloween this year, even though it is only a couple of weeks away.  We’ll do the traditional pumpkins, of course, but I’m not sure if we’ll participate in trick-or-treating.  We have discovered that there is no set time or day for trick or treating in Clermont.  In Wisconsin, we always had trick or treating the Sunday before Halloween, from 3:30 to 5:30, followed by pizza and hot chocolate (because it was always invariably cold outside).  We will buy a couple of bags of candy to give out to our neighbors’ children, but I think this year we’re going to be winging it.  Our original plan was to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but due to unforeseen circumstances, our budget will not allow for that extra expense this year.   I did win an Event Party Music CD from the Disney Planning Blog, so at least we’ll have the music to listen to!  Walt Disney World is not going anywhere, and neither are we; while we would have liked to attend, there also isn’t an urgency to do everything as soon as we possibly can.  There’s always next year, and we’re fine with that.

As always, thank you for following us.  We do plan to put out an update post soon describing what Florida life looks like to us three months after the move.

~♥~ Jen~♥~










Saturday Doings :)

When we started our blog, it was mainly for our own purposes, to keep track of different aspects of our move.  We feel honored that so many of our readers follow us regularly, and some readers aspire to follow in our footsteps and make their own journey to Florida to be closer to the Mouse.  🙂    In response to that, we attempt to post regularly, and to provide more informational blog posts that may help you with some of the major decision making that goes into a multi-state move.  There are times that we share a blog post, and think “Really?  No one is going to want to read that, it’s boring!”, and then we receive a few comments that encourage us that yes, you really want to hear about it!  Today we wanted to share with you what our day looks like three weeks before our move, to give you a feel of perhaps what to expect when you experience your relocation.

Saturday is typically a very routine day in the Vitek household.  We always begin with a trip to the library to return and check out different materials.  We are very heavy users of the public library, it’s not very often we miss a visit, and we intend to keep up the routine once we make the move.   We have two libraries in which to choose from in Clermont: Cooper Memorial and Cagan Crossings:  we will most likely select Cooper Memorial as the library we most often frequent as it is closer to us than Cagan Crossings.   Library cards must be applied for online, so we will do that the week of our move, so that they will be ready for us the following Saturday.

After the library we came home for lunch, and waited for a Craigslist exchange, twenty more dollars earned for our piggy!  We then went to our oldest son’s apartment again, then off to Festival Foods to do some grocery shopping.  We’ve been researching grocery stores in the Clermont area, and we do believe Publix will probably end up being our store of choice, although we’ve heard some good things about Sweetbay, so we may check that out as well. We pulled up the advertisement on the internet and the prices are quite comparable with what we are currently paying in Wisconsin.

We came home and unloaded our groceries, and went through the kitchen cabinets to see what else we could offer to Nick, and it ended up being quite a nice pile.  He will get more once we are down to our last couple of days, but it felt good to be able to clean out items and not have to pack them!   Saturday is also pizza night, and the big decision of where to order ensued.  We want to make sure that we have our favorites one last time, and tonight we chose Rocky Rococo, a large sausage pizza with breadsticks.  We waited to order until after 5:00, because we drive to pick it up, and we had another Craigslist transaction that netted an additional ten dollars.  We always watch a movie with our pizza, and tonight’s selection was Cars.  We still have yet to see Cars 2 in the theatre, but we plan to do that soon.

We did have a couple of minor *bad* things happen today.  One, the check engine light came on in the car.  We are hoping it’s just a glitch, as we just had the car undergo a 30 point inspection for the trip, including an oil change, and really can’t afford to put more money into the car at this point.  The second thing involved an accident with a glass of soda and our external hard drive.  At this point we’re not certain if any data is lost or if the device works.  The cord did get severely bent, however.    This is also another item that is not in the budget to replace.

Tomorrow we hope to finish up Ben’s room and make some progress in Catie’s.   The kids are a little nervous that their belongings will not be packed in time, but we keep reassuring them, that yes they will.  No toy gets left behind.  LOL  Nick is coming over on Monday to get some more of his things, and we plan to move the unwanted furniture into the garage, so we can Freecycle them.  We have a lot of odds and ends in the garage, and are going to be letting people come and take what they want.   Kind of like a free yard sale.  🙂

So that’s our day.  We didn’t get a huge amount accomplished today in terms of packing, but some days are like that.  We really like the fact that we’ve had plenty of time to sort through our belongings, so that we are not feeling hurried and rushed right now.  Six months notice was perfect for us; it was far enough away to not feel pressured to do everything at once, but close enough that we weren’t discouraged that it was so far away We do better with short term goals, but that’s just us.  You may find that a longer time period works best for you.

We wish all our American readers a very Happy Independence Day Weekend and please stay safe!  We’re planning a new blog post for Monday which highlights our local haunts, so please watch for that.   Mark is also working on a post that highlights a favorite Walt Disney World resort hotel, hoping to put that out later this week.


Random Thoughts…

As we continue with our packing and moving forward with our dream of relocating to Florida, we thought this would be a good time to update you on different things related to our move.

Packing :       The boxes are slowly being packed, and we continue making our weekly trips to Goodwill. We are up to 47 boxes packed.  🙂   We have all our holiday decorations and supplies in plastic totes, and we have decided to transfer them to moving boxes, for two reasons.  One, it helps us to cull what we have, and two, it prevents probable breakage and ensures our holiday belongings will not be rolling inside a Mayflower moving truck!  We have not yet decided if the totes will be moving with us, or if we will buy new ones in Florida.

We did not reach our goal of completely packing the downstairs by Easter, but we have made a considerable dent in it.  Our oak video cabinets, secretary, and wooden fish stand are on Craigslist, but we have not had much success in obtaining a buyer.  We will leave them on there for now, but will soon be reaching a point (because of space issues) where we will need to make the decision to donate the items and forego the cash we may have earned from the sale. Another option is a rummage sale, but we really do not feel it is worth our time and energies to pursue this, to possibly earn a few dollars.

Medical :        We are making sure that all our medical appointments are scheduled in before we leave.  We are really fond of the doctors that we are established with here locally, and it will be hard for us to make the adjustment to find new ones in Clermont, but we don’t want that to be a pressing issue at first.   Vision and dental appointments have been taken care of, and the children will be obtaining physicals this summer before we leave.  This is a requirement of the school district in Clermont.  We are just waiting to finalize our housing plans in May, and then we will be able to obtain the appropriate form needed.

Soccer :      Our daughter is gearing up to begin her soccer season:  she will be able to attend all practices and games except for the final tournament, which we believe will be held on the Saturday after we leave.  The schedule is not up yet, so we don’t know for sure. We will need to purchase new cleats and shin guards this year, but she loves soccer and plans to continue it in Clermont once we move, so it is a worthwhile expense.   Due to our move, Mark decided not to coach her team this year, a decision we feel is best for all concerned.

It’s Getting Closer!      We are getting more and more excited as our moving date draws closer.  We are thankful that we have had time to sort through all our “stuff” and weed out the unimportant things.  We feel that we are on a good time table– we are under three months but we have a lot accomplished.  No, we did not meet our downstairs packing goal, but we are not far off from it.   In the month of May we should be able to finalize our apartment choice, which is awesome!, and while June and July will be busy months, we will not be frantic and stressed out because there is so much to do.  Jen plans to do some scrapbooking in May and June, as the craft room/sunroom will be the last room packed. We have discovered that staying organized is the key to a successful move.    We have tried to anticipate all our potential expenses and needs, set up a time table and work a little bit every day doing something in preparation for the move.   A box packed, or a file folder of papers shredded is one less thing that needs to be done in July.  Every night we listen to one of Lou Mongello’s podcasts, which really inspires us to keep moving forward and realize our dream of living in warm, sunny Florida with Disney World just a short drive away.

Thanks for following along!