Friday, February 22, 2008

Florida Fun

A huge catchup is required here (for my own records, more than anything), but I did just upload photos, so now is as good a time as any to get those up and fill everyone in on how wonderful the trip was!

We left around 2ish from Beca's school, she was so thrilled to get picked up, and ready to GO! We made it as far as Baltimore (and could have made it further, but it seemed fortutious to stop early and spread out the drive so that we hit Jaxonville as early on Monday morning as we could). The hotel was ok, and we hit DC first thing in the AM, stayed at the memorials through lunch, and then drove down to the Carolinas. :D

First view of the Capitol Building. :D

Kids flying along the Potomac.

At the Lincoln Memorial, looking at the Washington Memorial.

Beca as close to the White House as we could possibly get. Which wasn't very close.

The next day we dropped in on Savannah. WOW! I really enjoyed this city. Beca and I went to Juliette Gordon Lowe's home, which was very cool (and for those wondering, she is the founder of the Girl Scouts (Guides) in the USA). Here are some shots from this cool city.

We only saw a little of Savannah, but it was time to hit the trail. We made it down to the Florida border that night, and drove into Orlando Monday morning, just as planned. :D Can't say that things have gone absolutely to ideal, getting the car broken into wasn't exactly in the plan, but it was, overall, an easy and not complicated trip.

Orlando the next day was all about getting the RV. It was pretty straight forward, no glitches. USAA was terrific, getting the insurance fax in immediately and everything worked perfectly after that. It took quite a bit of fiddley road work to find and get into Fort Wilderness, only because we were total newbies. Once checked in, we got a GREAT site, and had no issues. We watched the movie at the campfire that night, even Ori stayed awake for it and enjoyed it.

I'll refrain from the checking in photos. ;-)

We had our lunch date with Winnie the Pooh and friends the next day, which was really a fun highlight. It was cool to meet the gang, but honestly, the Crystal Palace Buffet was AMAZING!!! Smoked salmon, glazed duck, salads that were vegan, vegetarian, some had cheese, some were loaded with protein, pasta, it was incredible! The kids had their own buffet, just in case the 30 feet of buffet wasn't enough! Because of our dairy issues, a chef came and escorted me along the buffet (all three, actually, the kids, the main buffet, and the dessert buffet), going through all the ingredients and what was safe. When we discussed dessert, I asked if he could scrounge something up for Ori, because all the desserts at the bar were dairy based. He found us some raspberry sorbet that was GONE in no time!

The kids loved meeting the characters. We discussed what we could ask each one, and they all answered the questions except Pooh (who maybe couldn't hear us?).

Tigger: Where's the bounciest spot in the Magic Kingdom? (we opened up the map and let him point)

Pooh: Is there a good hunny tree anywhere nearby? Same map, no pointing.

Piglet: Are the Haycorns any good at the buffet? YES!

Eyeore: If he loses his tail in the restaurant, will he let us help him find it? YES!

We got in just in time for the big Cinderella's Castle show (oh my, the SHOWS! Worth a fortune, those shows! The kids really enjoyed them!). This one was about how believing in something can make it happen. How totally LoA!

Me and Chef Ken going through the big buffets.

Tigger! Ok, Ori was a leeetle scared of Tigger, but he also was VERY into asking his question. So he overcame his fear of the big stripey dude, and asked away. What a brave little fellow. :D

Pooh. Kinda blah, but very smiley.


Well, it'd be really easy to go on and on and on and on and ... about Disney. I can't say as the rides were that thrilling, but the shows were incredible, the campground was fun and perfect (clean, clean, CLEAN!). We rented a little golf cart one day, to do laundry and spend the morning chilling out just me and Ori while JAC and Beca went to MGM/Hollywood Studios, what a blast! You can go ANYWHERE in Fort Wilderness, and we went most everywhere! Well, in between loads of laundry, that is!

Here's the little blighter in the cart - he also decided at one point to explore the pedals on the floor of the cart. Smashed into the back of the van, luckily, and no damage to anyone or anything...but GEESH!

My favorite Park by FAR! Animal Kingdom had the best ride (Everest) other than Soarin, in all the land of Parkdom. There was a huge variety of food, activities, and we caught at least two big parades. BIG parades. Like 30 floats long and every Disney character imaginable (and a few new ones to us!).

Ori mooning the crowd in the Conservation Station.

Rafiki - a true friend. :D

Epcot! TOTALLY underrated (but I hear it is going to undergo some renos soon, so hopefully people will talk more about it. We ate in three countries, LOVED Soarin, and enjoyed the Nordic adventure too, though comparatively it was kinda lame, had a long line, and wasn't all that interesting to the adults. Ori loved it.

At Animal Kingdom, while waiting for our FastPass at Everest (which we all went on at least twice, and Beca went on 4 times!), we went and checked out the show at Nemo and Friends. Holy COW! What an amazing production! TOTALLY audience interactive, super high quality acting, the puppetry was awesome, the music wonderful, the sound quality superb, and overall, the show was a showstopper!

It was a really special visit, one we're sure to remember (and remind Orin of) for a loooong time.

And just a quick mention: we were the first family at the early evening show of the Hall of Presidents, which means they introduced us to the entire audience and we had to wave like the queen and giggle. It was fun - ok, so we didn't win dream fastpasses, but we did get to experience some of the fun of the Year of Wishes. Not that we'd ever wish to be Frist Family...or have people we don't know giggle right back at us lol!

So after we packed up from Disney, we meandered down I4 to I75 to Siesta Key. Ahhhh - once we found our campground, which by all accounts is SMALL (though it was MY idea to turn around when we were really 95% of the way there!) and got backed into the slot that we would call home for the next 5 days, it was all luxury. Sand, hammock, friends, beer, surf and excellent grub. :D It was SO fun! Heidi posted up some great photos, not sure if I'll figure out how to post them on here, but I've got some other ones I can share meanwhile. It really was a major chill out session for us all. :D

With Iris

My boys on the beach.

Our last full day on Siesta Key we decided to rent a power boat and cruise the intercoastal waterway. We went in search of dolphins, manatees, and beauty, and we sure got our share! We didn't see any manatees, I think they are all congregating around the southern waterways this time of year (or in kinda contained areas, like Crystal Springs, which are really touristy). But here's our dolphin who came and visited us! And some gratuitous shots from the boat. The other little gal is Olivia, and her folks are there too - Jodi and Dave. Really nice folks from Turtle Beach Campground that Beca made friends with first, and well, we all just gelled! It was a lot of fun! :D

What we affectionately termed Peepee Island. :D

Smashfaced Ori snoozed for the last little bit. He didn't take very many naps this trip (and made ALL his poopies in the potty! And nearly all his pees, too!), but when he crashed, it was HARD. :D

The ride home was FAST and uneventful. We did it in 2 days, with a short 8 hr day and a long 17 hr day. JAC was afraid of getting caught behind the storm and having crappy drivers (and roads) to contend with, so he blazed through the night and we pulled in late Thursday night. Over all too quickly, it was a fabulous vacation!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

You know you're south of the Mason Dixon Line when...

There are 6 kinds of pork bellies for sale in the vending machines.

Peaches are served with, well, everything!

People switch between their oxygen tanks and their cigarettes in the parking lots, well, everywhere!

You can get corn nuggets, but not potato nuggets.

All the young children have dark skinned babies as dollies.

We drove from Baltimore area to Washington DC today, checked out the monuments (and WOW is it ever hard to get a picture of the White House!), had a nice lunch on the Potomac, I think B really enjoyed it all, and it was nice for Orin to get out and run around (and around and around lol!). Then we bee-lined it from DC down to South Carolina, where yes, there are pork bellies and peaches just EVERYWHERE! It's really quite refreshing. There's a palm tree outside our hotel room, and we can really let go of our winter clothes. YAY!!!

Obama is winning a few states, which is fabulous...but not the big states, which is somewhat disappointing.

Ok, Beca's turn for the 'puter. It's started off a really fun vacation! :D

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Ok - we got our 4th Recall letter in the mail in the past several months. All different items, all with scary potential effects. First was the Thomas stuff - we didn't have much, a few stop signs lol. Lead paint isn't a huge concern of mine, but certainly the results of lead poisoning are not funny! I'm not even totally sure the stuff we had was in the lots that were recalled, but I chucked them anyway. Then the aquadots thing - Beca thought it was so cool, and good lord! Coma and what-all-else for those little kids! Ugh! And then the lamp in the living room - yes, a lamp. Seems this particular one is burning down peoples homes, living room first. And lastly there was the letter from Battat about the mini-magnet-building-set that we got Beca a few yrs ago. Apparently the magnets were popping out and causing problems in the digestive tracts of children. D'oh! As soon as the first one popped out I've started throwing them away, and steadily I have continued to do so. It's taken a while, actually, to get them all; I'm still not sure I have. It never did occur to me to gather them into one place and RETURN THEM TO THE MANUFACTURER!!! Not sure what is with me - I seem to have fallen into a seriously lame funk these past few years.

Being a mom is hard. Being a mom with responsibilities beyond just caring for a child is harder. For instance, being in charge of the maintenance of the cars, any major decisions (ANY major decisions) regarding our lives - health care, education, any expenditure of money on a large scale, maintenance of our quality of life items (house, car, etc.), these are all in my purview. Now don't take this as complaining, though I'd dearly love to do that. In reality, I'm HAPPY that these are mine and pretty much mine alone. In the end, what I say goes on a lot of topics. However, it is exhausting. More tiring than I care to admit to myself. I spent DAYS researching preschools (what they're supposed to teach, how they can do that, optimal hours per day, per week, etc.) and finally decided on one that fit all my needs, exceeded my expectations for facility and teachers, and that wasn't a days drive. In each direction.

As we get ready for vacation (FLORIDA!!! DISNEY!!! HEIDI!!! WOOHOO!!!), I find myself consumed with a zillion tiny (and not so tiny) decisions, some cost nothing, some cost hundreds or thousands of our dollars...and SO much TIME!'s really something else, how much time can be taken up trying to get a reasonable sized media player for the kids to hold onto in the back seat, one that has enough memory for a few movies (so they can choose) and that doesn't have wires all over everywhere. And of course, nothing NOTHING is ever easy. I chose to get a PSP slim and light, which purports to play MPEG4's BUT...and it's a BIG FAT GREEK BUTT... they only play PSPMPEG4's. So all the ones I have on my HD are not working. And it's not one download, it's not TWO downloads, it's not THREE downloads...I've done more than FOUR downloads already, and the darned thing still won't work. So now, at the 11th hour, I'm stuck with $300 worth of machine (that only actually cost me $150, but that's besides the point!) that doesn't do what I need it to do, and does what I didn't need it to do (entertain with witless and useless games that are helluva fun and totally addictive). Grrrrrrreat.

Well, so as I find myself so consumed (and there are a lot of other decisions undescribed - the car top carrier, the bike carrier, the rental unit, driving vs flying down, what to do about our food issues etc.), the amount of time and energy I have for stuff like collecting tiny magnets that are spread all over the darned house and collecting them and sending them back to Battat - well it's pretty low on the list. Getting laundry done, clearing out the fridge, getting someone to feed the fish - these are all bigger issues for me. And our dog sitter that we lined up - Jason and Mindy? Jason hasn't been in all week. I suppose if he isn't in tomorrow we will have to call and beg. God, how humiliating. Getting recalled sucks.