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!