Walt Disney World Vacation – Hollywood Studios

After the slight letdown that was our Day Three at Animal Kingdom, it was time to ramp the intensity back up at the final park of our trip: Hollywood Studios. Last time we were here, most of our day was spent on character experiences, which really was not an option this time around due to COVID protocols. This year, the girls were all about the thrill rides, so it was going to be less of a stroll through the park and more of using our time efficiently. But with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land ahead of us, we were all anticipating having a good time. Remember when I said that Magic Kingdom was going to be our best day? For once, I was happy to be wrong.

A Jedi can sometimes see into the future and I definitely picked the right shirt for the occasion… just saying.
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Walt Disney World Vacation – Animal Kingdom

After coming off of our best day so far on our vacation, we were headed into our third day at the parks and would be visiting Animal Kingdom. It was bound to be a little bit of a drop in excitement compared to the Magic Kingdom, but none of us were prepared at how far that drop would be. But we kept our heads held high and tried to make the best out of it.

And even before Encanto hit Disney Plus, they were already in love.
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Walt Disney World Vacation – Magic Kingdom

After taking a warm-up lap in EPCOT, it was time to set the pace for the entire vacation by heading to the Magic Kingdom (I swear, this whole post is not going to be full of running metaphors, as writing this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint). This was the main event during our last trip to Walt Disney World (WDW) and we were anticipating it was going to be the same this time around. The girls, the grandparents, and I were all pretty pumped and nothing was going to stop us from getting our vacation back on track and enjoying the heck out of the park. Magic Kingdom and the best day of our entire vacation? Yeah, this is going to be a long post…

A dozen pictures at this location and this was the only one where Gabriella even remotely smiled
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Walt Disney World Vacation – EPCOT

After our terrible travel day and a half day enjoying the resort, we tried to right the ship during the first park visit of our vacation. After a full night’s sleep and a morning of going over the day’s initial plan, we were ready to go to EPCOT to get our Walt Disney World (WDW) Christmas vacation back on track.

Papa was very disappointed that the “EPCOT Ball” was not a golfing simulator
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Walt Disney World Vacation – Travel to Orlando

For our vacation this year, we decided on going to Walt Disney World (WDW) for Christmas. The girls have been very excited about the prospect of going back for a while now, but last year was just a little too hectic for everyone to try to squeeze it in. Since we were not going to visit any of my family for Christmas and my Mom is a Disney fanatic, Grandma and Papa decided to join us on our vacation. At the time we planned and booked the trip, the Delta variant was subsiding and the WDW parks were still limited to around 70% capacity, so it seemed like the perfect time to try to get in a family Christmas Vacation in with Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Florida.

Same Disney Bags, New Disney Adventure
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Merry Christmas from the Calkins Family

It is that time of year again and we are in full holiday mode. The Elf on the Shelf has been active, the ornaments and stockings have been hung, and the sugar cookies and gingerbread houses have been decorated. Aside from putting up Christmas lights, we went all out again this year in bringing out the holiday spirit as we celebrate our last Christmas on Fort Huachuca (during this tour, at least).

But it is a pity that we are moving away from our amazing photographer of the last four years

As per the usual, it has been a busy year in the Calkins Family and we are very much anticipating some rest and relaxation at Walt Disney World during our vacation starting tomorrow. Afterwards, the girls will be staying at their Great-Grandmother’s house for Christmas (she guilt-tripped me until I said yes) while I get caught up with the post-leave mountain of work. While we may be off the net for a while, I will be back to posting about our continuing adventure soon.

Yep… quite a busy year indeed.

Thanks for checking in on us and we hope that you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Cheers!

Happy 3rd Anniversary!

Three years ago, I started this blog to ensure that I always put my family first and focused on being a great Dad to my two daughters, Elaina and Gabriella. Only reinforcing what I stated in this blog’s first anniversary post, if that was the only goal, this endeavor was a resounding success. Not that I necessarily needed the encouragement, but it always helps to keep yourself grounded and constantly evaluate how you are doing as a father, for better or for worse. Looking back through all our adventures over the past three years, the Calkins Family has been through a lot and we continue to drive on with our heads held high.

Gabriella (3) and Elaina (5) in 2018

While the second goal of this blog was to “to inspire and give hope to other single fathers out there,” I never dreamed of the positive effect that it would actually have. In the past three years, at least half a dozen newly single fathers have approached me for advice, guidance, and support. While each of their situations is different, they reached out to me after reading my posts, seeing in-person how my girls were fully involved in my personal and professional life (and vice versa), and how I was able to always put my family as a priority. While a few just needed someone to talk to that had been through similar circumstances, others needed clear advice and positive support so that they and their children could get to a stable footing. Regardless of how they got to that situation, single parents need positive reinforcement: Things will get better and putting your family first is always the best course of action. I hope that this blog will continue to be an inspiration for other single parents who are going through similar trials and tribulations.

Gabriella (6) and Elaina (8) in 2021.

Thanks for checking in on us and sticking with us for the past three years.

Cheers!

Halloween 2021

Halloween is back at Fort Huachuca and the girls were excited as ever to go out trick-or-treating on post. With the Trunk-or-Treat event happening right next to our house and the girls getting the hang of “efficient” trick-or-treating, our last Halloween on Fort Huachuca was sure to be one to remember.

Do not let their calm demeanor deceive you; they are well aware they are about to get a ton of candy
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The Calkins Family vs. the AIM Marketplace

As stated in previous posts, the last two months have involved me working towards choosing and securing our next duty station, and it has been busy for me and little stressful on all of us. It involved me staying up late researching and writing emails, spending far too much time on the computer (which the girls did not like), and growing very concerned that we were not going to get an assignment that we wanted. Thankfully, everything worked out in the end, but we are all a little exhausted from the experience.

One of my Small Group Leaders has a Doctorate in Memes… so his work will be featured heavily here.
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Elaina’s Horseback Riding Lessons

We are always looking for routine activities to get involved in, but recently the options have been less than stellar for the girls and I. They are both lukewarm on getting back into soccer and Gabriella changes her mind daily on if she would prefer karate or gymnastics; I think Elaina would excel in volleyball or basketball, but she just has no desire to play either. So obviously Horseback Riding was the next logical step…

Dressed for Success!
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