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Our Tax-Free Weekend

As we crawl closer along to that first day of school, my heart seems to beat a little faster these days.  I know it’s coming, that last hurdle to let me know we made the right decision in moving here- and it’s only now a week away.  My close friend, Matthew, was the first one to tell me about this thing called a “Tax-free weekend” here in FL. I was intrigued- what was this all about? I’m here to tell you all about my experience with it so sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Saturday morning we woke up in a great mood- today we were heading to the “Florida Mall.” Now I know to some that may sound strange to be excited about, but none of us had touched a Mall since May in WI.  You take for granted the familiarity in even the Mall in your home town, and when it’s gone, it finding everything again that can be a bit frustrating.  The kids were giddy as they knew this meant that they were not only going school shopping, but Mom and Dad would spoilt them a bit because we hadn’t done a major shopping trip since the first days of moving here.

We piled into the Taurus and headed to “THE LOOP” first.  I am a HUGE “Kohls” girl, so I was excited to shop it with not only time, but some spare money to boot!  The kids needed more clothes for their school uniforms, along with Craig and I needing new clothes that didn’t see sweat yet.  We had so much fun looking and shopping, and then when your receipt says you saved $121 it felt great we shopped the tax-free weekend. Basically, that’s what it is- clothes and certain school items are tax-free. So again the more you spend, the more you will save. After a stop at Old Navy for a pair of khakis for Kyra and a treasure found- “Jones” brand soda- you would have thought Kyra found a million dollars! She was so happy, so we got her one, along with Mad Libs and Pop Rocks for Emily- who knew Old Navy sold these things? LOL We were finally out the door and on our way to the Florida Mall!

We found it ok with the GPS, and I think I could find it again on my own. I always feel more comfortable with Craig when I am driving somewhere new first, as it’s that extra security blanket when you are somewhere new. I don’t think people should explore on their own, as there are many parts of Orlando you wouldn’t want to wind up by yourself- but some don’t have a choice, so I understand.

Now, the Fox River Mall in Appleton had about 180 plus stores in it, and this Mall has over 200! When you have a HOTEL connected to it, you must bring in the business and have quite the busy Mall.  We parked with no problem, around 10 a.m., and went into the M&M Store entrance outside. If you like to grab photo opportunities, the cute characters are at the outside entrance, so make sure to go out and grab a pic! I don’t think many who are in the store or walking by in the Mall realize they exist out there.

We loved the smell of the chocolate, the colors of the walls, and just the overwhelming M&M invasion we were having. Craig’s mom is a M&M collector, so I am sure she will be coming here  on her next trip out. We refrained from buying anything, because in reality the candy itself is the cheapest at your local Wal-Mart- but it is an experience that everyone should have.

We found quickly that there wasn’t much rhyme or reason to how this Mall was laid out- we basically took a right and walked. It was fun to come across stores from home that we love so much- The Body Shop, Bath and Body, Hot Topic, JCPenneys, and of course, Build-A-Bear. The Disney Store is being renovated and will have its grand opening August 24th, and then the 27th will have Jessie and Woody officially opening the store on that Saturday. You can bet on it we will be there!

The Food Court was awesome, although I missed the second floor we had in ours back home. We would sit up there and it would feel like Wilderness Lodge because of the lodge theming- guess I can just GO to Wilderness Lodge now and feel the same thing- right? Yeah, even I, AFP, forget that I live so close to these cool things sometimes.

We ate at our first “Five Guys” which is a burger and fries joint- but they are grilled fresh, and I had mine with grilled onions and mushrooms- soooooo good! Em and Kyra opted for pizza from Sbarro, and we chilled as we ate and listened to the music coming from the video screens. I don’t mind the music videos, but some were a bit to much to be played in a Family environment like the Mall. And since when do we have to watch something while we eat? I would have been find with just the music, but you could see all the families battling with kids who were entranced with the videos and not paying attention to their food.  I’ll be the first one to admit that I wish we didn’t eat at home as much as we do while in front of the tv, but when we are all out together, its family time, so for me, it was a bit distracting. And no, my Mall from WI did not have any tvs.

Kyra got to step into her first Hot Topic since leaving, and was happy to find a couple shirts that she can wear outside of school. Next were new shoes at Payless for the “Buy One, Get One Half Off”  along with slip on socks and a new belt for school. After a brief look in a toy store, we headed into JCPenneys to find more shirts for Kyra.  They had a great deal where you bought a shirt, then the second was a $1 more- then you got $10 off anything totaling $25 or more- so for 2 shirts, and a new bottom and top swim suit for Kyra, it only cost me a total of $19- including the tax off as well- got to LOVE saving money!

Last but not least was a quick look in Bath and Body and Childrens Place, before Emily was in heaven and was stuffing her grey kitty, Dory. Dory is the name of our kitty back in WI which is at my Dads until we can get her here- today is actually her birthday and Em is taking it hard this morning. She was happy to buy a kitty, and found a Tangled dress for her with sparkly shoes. The deal was for an animal, outfit, and a pair of shoes was $30- great deal! I had promised her all week I would let her buy one, so she was so happy and excited to hold her on the way out of the Mall and on the way home.

We loved the entire day, and ended it at Beaches N Cream at the Beach Club in WDW. It’s an ice cream parlor that serves some amazing items, including the Kitchen Sink, but we were there more to meet someone special. Shelley Urick Jones befriended me on the Internet sometime last year – we became close friends and we had been waiting to meet for quite some time. Raena, her beautiful daughter, was celebrating her birthday weekend, so along with many more Disney friends, we surprised her and I think Raena was overjoyed. Emily drew her two Minnie pictures, Raena’s favorite character of course, and she loved them. It made Emily feel so loved and appreciated that Raena reacted so happy and warm about them- it was the highlight of my night.

We sat around in the humid air, chatting up Shelley’s adventures so far, and getting to know her family. We met new friends who live here as well, along with Denise, another reader of the blog. I get so happy when I am at Meets because the love and energy is through the roof – there is no nonsense, just pure joy and THAT means everything to me and my family.

Emily started to feel sore, a pinched nerve we suspected on her collar bone, and after Childrens Advil wasn’t doing much, Craig opted to take her home with Kyra. I was happy the family could meet everyone, but was also happy to have some one on one time with J.L. and others who I never get to see. We all headed to the Atlantic Dance Hall for some dancing, and even though the music was junk, we still had fun together. I got to connect with Shelley more, and had way to much fun teasing Anthony.  I have to say that I truly love Ken, not Kent, and Anthony as close and dear friends- they always have a smile on their face, always positive, and just friendly people you want to know.  (There I said it Anthony, you can send the check to…. LOL)  jk

We danced into the wee hours, and after a walk back to the Beach Club Villas where I saw probably the most beautiful room on Property,  I headed into the dark night- exhausted and quite happy.

When life gets busy, I have a hard time opening up my lap top and blogging. Even as I write this the kids are getting ready to head to Sea World for the day, while I am still in my PJ’s. I love to write, its food for my soul, but its just been hard to do so lately with school rapidly approaching. I would like to sincerely ask all of you to pray and think good thoughts for Kyra and Emily this week- it is their last week of summer before reality hits, and I want them to be at peace with it all. I have to be at peace with it all FIRST, and as a Mom, sometimes that is a very hard thing to achieve.  Thank you all for your continued loyalty and friendship and I am sure you will hear from me again by the end of the day- God bless!

7 Comments »

  1. Amy,

    It is amazing how both our days started out exciting and adventurous and how they ended with so many events to process through our “making memories” brains.

    That night gave me a glimpse of how our life could be just hanging out and just enjoying the company of others that also relocated in FL. I will say that Raena so enjoyed herself and also at her age to make new friends for me as a mom is priceless and even a bit emotional since Raena has been bullied so much back in our hometown due to her learning disability.

    Oh BTW, “YOU are REAL” it is so amazing to have met you and your family you all are so beautiful! I look forward to many more blogs on how things are changing and transpiring for you!

    Love you!
    Shelley

  2. Sounds like you and the family had a fun day school shopping. A couple legislators up here are trying to get a tax-free weekend for back to school shopping as well. Hoping that Emily and Kyra enjoy their new schools and everything goes smoothly the first day. Cant wait to here how their days went. 3 weeks from tomorrow Brianna will be starting 1st grade up here, dont know where the time has gone. God bless you and your family too!

  3. Awesome weekend!! So much that you did and experienced!! That’s the dream life Amy!! 🙂 Hopefully one day me and Kay will be able to move down to Florida and live our dreams!

    Sounds like you and Shelley had a great time meeting each other’s families…that’s so great! I recently started chatting with Shelley more on FB and text and just love that I am making a new friend!! 🙂 It’s kinda cool how our little Disney community is coming together and meeting and all connecting!!

    I am keeping you and the girls and Craig in my thoughts this week with school starting next week! I can believe how excited but nervous they must be! I am sure everything will be fine though….believe me, I am right there with you with the nervousness and everything with school since Kay starts kindergarten 2 days after we come back from WDW! So much to still get done when we get back (not really, but it feels like it…last minute supplies, pay tuition, orientation…)

    Keep up the great blogs Amy!! You do a great job with them and I love when I see there is a new one!! Have fun at Sea World today and tell the dolphins “hi” for me!

    BTW…(cant wait til Friday!!)

    I

  4. Awesome update, Ames! I’m sure Kyra and Emily will enjoy their new endeavors at school and make friends, posthaste. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing adventures.

  5. Had never heard of tax free weekends before, but we still find it a novelty having to add tax onto everything when we are visiting WDW from the UK, ours is already included in the price tag! Glad you ended a great day in an awesome way 🙂

  6. Amy,
    I am glad the school day worked out good. It looks like you had a wonderful weekend. I would have been nervous about the schools as well. I always heard the schools there were bad. A 14 year old friend of my sons was there 1 1/2 years ago and hated it. They have since moved back. They were over by Tampa so that probably made the difference. Anyway it looks like you had a blast at the mall also. My daughter seen the M&M store and loved it, the question then was when we go to WDW next year can we go to that store too? So it looks like we may have to visit the M&M store.
    It looks like you are settling in well. A favorite statement of mine is “If God leads you to it he will see you through it”
    I wish you continued success.I look forward to meeting you when we come down next year.

    Take care and God bless

    Paul, Indiana

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