Thursday, May 22, 2014

Happy Mothers Day!

For the love of my life - thank you for marrying me Amy!!

 - Groom!

Claire and Cale wish Mommy a Happy Mothers Day! from Steve Norton on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


At Claire’s request, we are putting this information on our blog in hopes of helping her and her friends reach their goal.

Claire and the other kids at our church are raising as much money as they can between now and March 9th to help kids who don’t get enough food to eat.

The money you give will buy food to make Weekend Packs that are sent home from school with kids who need food for the weekend.

To learn more about Weekend Packs and how EBC is supporting local schools and food shelves check out

Claire must turn in all monies by Sunday, March 9th.  Claire is really excited about this and really wants to help out the kids who need it.  If you can help, you would not only help the kids in our area go to bed with full tummies and the knowledge that we care about them, but you would be helping to teach my daughter about generosity and caring for those who don’t have all that we have.

Once all monies have been collected, the church will purchase food.  All four of us are going to help pack the Weekend Packs.  The goal of our church campus is to pack 7,000 Weekend Packs.  Please help us reach our goal.

If you need our address, please send me an email or comment on this post.  Thank you for helping out!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Walt Disney World & Disney Cruise Aboard the Disney Magic – Part 3

On Monday, we returned our rental car to the airport and boarded the Disney Cruise Line bus, which took us to the Disney Cruise Line terminal where we checked in and boarded The Disney Magic!clip_image001

Inside the cruise terminalclip_image002


Our first view of the shipIMG_2404

Olaf was in the cruise terminal!IMG_2407.2

We were announced as we boarded the ship.  “Disney Magic, please welcome the Norton family!”  There were a group of cast members who cheered as each family boarded.  How fun!IMG_2409

Our stateroom (sans pack and play – We originally booked one; but Cale no longer needs one, so we asked our steward to remove it.  The couch folded down to make a very nice bed for him.)IMG_2412

When they turn down your bed for the night, they flip the pillow over.  Here’s the back side:IMG_2686

Ready for the Sail Away Party!clip_image004






My loves and meIMG_2472




Grandma and GrandpaIMG_2486



All of us  (Sorry, Grandma, this is the only picture of all of us.  I would have much preferred one with your hair not in your face, but it doesn’t exist.)IMG_2521

Aboard Disney Cruise Lines, you actually eat in a different restaurant every night and are served different cuisines in each.  On Monday, we ate at Lumiere’s, which served French cuisine.  It was so neat and so yummy!

I took pictures of a few things just to show you the attention to detail.

Our menuIMG_2528

The plates had crowns and carriages!!IMG_2529

My appetizer – fried brieIMG_2530

The chandelier – love the rose!IMG_2531

There was also a Beauty and the Beast mural on the wall that I somehow failed to get a picture of.

Desserts were topped with the yummiest dark chocolate Mickeys!IMG_2538

We did a little shopping before our show started.  Cale loves trying on hats.

Aye, Aye, Captain!clip_image005

Our show Monday night was “Villains Tonight!”  It was very cute.

On Tuesday morning we went to “Wake Up With Disney Junior.”  We danced to all of the Disney Junior theme songs, including Doc McStuffins, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Roll Up The Map, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, The Hot Dog Dance, etc.  Jake came to the party too.

Cale dancing on stageIMG_2541

Partying with Jake  (I love his shadow in this picture.)IMG_2544

Claire had a good time dancing.IMG_2546

Downstairs, the princesses had gathered for chats and photos (Princess Tiana, Belle, Rapunzel and Cinderella).IMG_2550

Since Claire had already met all of them except for Princess Tiana, she said that Cale should have his picture taken with Jake, who was waiting outside of our morning dance party to meet everyone.  What a sweet sister my girl is!IMG_2552.2

On Tuesday, we docked in Nassau in The Bahamas.

This is the back of our ship – notice Goofy painting.IMG_2560

The Disney MagicIMG_2563

The PortIMG_2567

We walked around a little and did a little shopping.  I bought some post cards, Claire got a color-changing ring and a straw purse and Cale got a leather bracelet.IMG_2574

We returned to the ship for lunch, and then Steve and I watched Saving Mr. Banks while Grandma and Grandpa watched the kids.  Cale took a short nap with Grandpa while Claire went swimming with Grandma.  We all ended up in the pool.  Steve, Grandma and Claire all went down the waterslide.  It was a beautiful day!clip_image007

We got out of the pool just in time to get ready for dinner.  Tuesday we ate dinner at Animator’s Palate.  Again, I took pictures of the amazing details.

Our table number/centerpieceIMG_2575

Our menusIMG_2577

Our dessert menusIMG_2591


Our platesIMG_2576

Check out the bread plates and butter knives! IMG_2583

Tuesday dinner was our optional dress-up night.  We all got a little fancy.  The boys wore Mickey Mouse bow ties with white shirts and khaki pants.  How handsome!  (Cale is wearing his new leather bracelet.)IMG_2578

Grandpa and Grandma got all gussied up too!  Ooh la la!IMG_2580

Claire was so beautiful in her Minnie Mouse dress, Minnie Mouse flip flops, Minnie Mouse jewelry and Minnie Mouse purse.  What a doll!IMG_2586

When we arrived, everything in the room was black and white.  The images in the frames on the walls were being “drawn” while we ate dinner.IMG_2581

After dinner, the lighting changed, the pictures were then full-color and animated.IMG_2584

Mickey showed up too!  (I realize my picture is not the best, but you can at least see that he was there.)IMG_2590

Claire watching Mickey Mouse (a more important picture for me to take than taking one of Mickey Mouse, which is how I missed my picture of The Mouse – I make no apologies.)IMG_2588

After dinner our show was “Twice Charmed:  An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story.”  It was my favorite show of the cruise.

On Wednesday, our ship docked at Castaway Cay – Disney’s private island.

Claire went to the Oceaneers Club to participate in some of their events.  Cale was too young for Oceaneers Club, so he stayed with us.

He didn’t like being away from Sissy, but he loved getting to see Mickey again!clip_image006

You can never have too many “Mickey hugs!”IMG_2600.2

Cale also got to see Goofy.IMG_2603

Me and my love - This is the life!IMG_2616

Splashing around with my handsome little manIMG_2621


After spending the morning on the island, we went back to the ship so that Claire and I could watch Frozen.  Grandma and Grandpa joined us.  Steve and Cale took a nap.IMG_2431

After the movie, Steve and Claire went swimming.  I stayed in the room with Cale and read.  Cale ended up taking a four-hour nap!  I guess we wore him out since we had kept him up late every night for a week and didn’t allow him a single nap during that time either.  Cale woke up happy and ready to play. 

One of Cale’s favorite things to do is play with cars.  He had a few with him, and he loved how he could play with them in the windows.  He could put them in the circle and let go, and they would roll down and back up the other side.  It was endless entertainment.IMG_2655

My silly kidsclip_image009



Thursday night was Pirate Night.  Our dinner on Thursday was in Animator’s Palate again.  But everything was different than before.  This time all of the frames had pictures of pirates and movies of pirates.

Our menusIMG_2657

Our dessert menusIMG_2672

Lots of people dressed up.  Everyone received a bandana, so even we, who had no pirate costumes, fit in.IMG_2659

Claire wearing her menu / pirate hatIMG_2658

My pirates!IMG_2662

And I just have to share this.  There was a family sitting a couple of tables over from where we sat.  Every last one of them was totally decked out in pirate garb.  (I’m guessing it wasn’t their first Disney cruise, because they were so totally over the top that they looked like they had walked off of a movie set.  They were so cool!)  Check out the baby’s costume – she was a parrot!!!  I love it! IMG_2664

What a great party!IMG_2669

Our kids took a picture with our waiter, Marcus.  He did an excellent job taking care of us during our cruise, and the kids loved him.clip_image012

After dinner, we got to meet Peter Pan.IMG_2676.2

We also saw “Pirate Mickey,” but we didn’t get to take pictures with him since the line was already closed.  He needed time to get ready for the Pirates in the Caribbean Deck Party.IMG_2679.2

Speaking of getting ready for the pirate party, we needed to as well.  Aren’t we cute?


The most beautiful pirate everIMG_2692

The Pirates in the Caribbean Deck PartyIMG_2702



Enjoying the Pirate PartyIMG_2716





Claire fell asleep before the party was over.IMG_2767

Cale was also getting really tired, but he seemed to find enough energy to show off his killer dance moves.  He’s too funny!

Thursday was a day at sea.  The weather changed on Thursday, and it was much cooler out.  If you were outside in an area where the wind was blocked, it was wonderful.  But if you were on the open deck, it was chilly.  So we opted for a few inside activities.

After breakfast, Claire, Grandma and I went to a group activity where we made a few crafts.  I failed to get pictures of the crafting, but I did manage to take pictures of the finished products.  First we made door hangers.



IMG_2773  IMG_2774

Then we cut out Olaf and glued him to construction paper.  You could arrange his body parts any way you wanted.  Some of them were pretty funny.  Here’s Claire’s.IMG_2770

After lunch, Grandma and Grandpa watched Saving Mr. Banks, Claire and Cale took naps, and Steve and I packed.  Claire attended a royal ball in the Oceaneers Club but asked to be picked up so that she could take another nap.  After the movie, Steve, Grandma and Grandpa went to the game show “How Well Do You Know Your Family?”

Our final dinner was in Carioca’s, a Brazillian restaurant.  It was delicious!  I didn’t take any pictures however.

Our final show was “Disney Dreams:  An Enchanted Classic.”  Our kids were so tired that we watched the show on the TV in our stateroom.

On Friday, we managed to be on the first bus leaving the cruise terminal.IMG_2778


We managed to easily board the 10:00 a.m. flight from MCO to MSP and were home by 1:00 p.m.  We ate and put the kids down for naps.  I unpacked while Steve snowblowed our driveway, walkways, etc.  By the time the kids got up I had already done two loads of laundry and had everything else put away.

We had the absolute best vacation ever!!

Our favorite parts of the trip:

Claire – Meeting the princesses and riding the roller coasters

Cale – Meeting Mickey Mouse and seeing him everywhere

Steve – Uninterrupted time with family, the AquaDunk waterslide onboard the Disney Magic, two dates with Amy and seeing the joy on our kids’ faces every single day

Amy – I would have to concur with my husband – seeing the joy on my kids’ faces is priceless!  I loved meeting the characters and riding the rides, especially the roller coasters.  The food onboard the Disney Magic was phenomenal.  The shows were fantastic.

If we were to do this vacation again (and we will!), we would do some of the same things:

  • We would definitely walk ourselves and our luggage through customs rather than setting our luggage out in the hall the night before.  That was so easy and fast.
  • We will pack light for the trip.  We only took one full-sized suitcase and one carry-on sized suitcase for all four of us for 10 days.  We had plenty and even took some things we didn’t wear and some things we didn’t use.  However, I would essentially pack the same items since we might need them next time.

And we would change a few things:

  • We would wait in line to see the princesses on the cruise ship.  (Claire had met all of them before, except for Tiana, but I would have made time for her to see them again.)
  • I would not have put Claire in the Oceaneers Club while in Castaway Cay.  I would have spent a day at the beach as a family.
  • We would do one shore excursion in Nassau.  (We didn’t sign up for one this time because our kids are so young we thought it might be an expense we didn’t need when they might not appreciate the experience.  I still think we were right to skip it this time, but our kids will be older next time.)

Overall, it was the best vacation ever!  We had a wonderful time!!