Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

In years past, I've really tried to make cute, creative, unique costumes for my kids (like HERE.)This was not one of those years. I know I had an excuse - I was busy planning Joe's surprise party, then I was busy with writing stuff, then I was out of town to L.A., Orlando, and Sonoma, but still...

Instead of putting on my creativity hat when Jackson asked, "What should I be for Halloween," I think I said something like, "Put on your baseball uniform. Ta Da!" Actually, I got him a helmet, he wore his Bears jersey, and I slapped some mascara under his eyes. While we were in Disney World, I pulled a couple princess dresses off the rack and told the youngest girls, "You're going to be princesses." Clay wanted to be a monkey which was fine and dandy with me since we still had the perfectly good monkey costume he wore last year. Done. Austin didn't go trick-or-treating at all. He was content to pass candy out to kids. Savannah and a couple friends had decorated mathing orange t-shirts a few weeks ago, so they went out and did a little trick-or-treating with their decorative shirts and spray painted hair.

We never even went to a corn maze or to a farm or to pick out pumpkins or anything. I never even took out any of my Halloween decorations this year. I didn't put up a single window cling, nor a ghost, or pumpkin figurine. I didn't buy any hay, Indiana corn, apple cider, pumpkins or gourds. I didn't make any carmel apples. I didn't make any pumpkin pie. It's like we just bypassed fall and I have this fear that my kids are going to remember this one Halloween when we didn't do a darn thing to celebrate fall. They won't remember any of the times we went to corn mazes with our friends. They won't remember the hours I spent working on costumes. They won't remember carving pumpkins and toasting seeds. They'll remember the year we did nothing.

Or maybe they'll remember the cool trip to Disney World and forget all about this lame fall/Halloween. One can hope.

Oh well, at least I didn't make them go as crazy pickle arm guy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sharing the Joy of Parenting

First off, a few of you commented and/or took time to email me about my leg. Thank you for your concern! Today, my leg is totally fine - no pain, no redness, or swelling. I have really nasty varicose veins in my left leg and sometimes my leg just hurts. Ever since I developed a blood clot (and doctors learned that I have a clotting condition) a couple years ago, I just tend to get a little scared if I have pain in my leg. Thankfully, after soaking in the tub and lying down for a good night's sleep, it was fine and dandy this morning. I'll definitely remember to wear my sexy compression stockings the next time I travel though. :D

So, my retreat is winding down. I leave early tomorrow morning. I'm so glad I came though. I've met some really wonderful, talented, and encouraging folks here. I've learned some tips and gotten a lot of helpful information from the workshops. I think we've all had a good time.

My agent made it back here to the retreat this evening and gave us an update on her husband. Although the bleeding in his brain looks a bit worse, doctors reassured her that it was normal and they'll continue to closely monitor him. And thankfully, his memory has returned. As he recovers, they'll have to do some tests to determine if there are underlying problems that caused him to fall to begin with. If you're so inclined, I know that Janet and Loch would appreciate your prayers.

And here's a little story for you. Yesterday, Joe called me and said, "I have to tell you about my night."

"What happened?" I inquired.

"I think I had one of your typical nights."

"Uh oh. What happened," I repeated.

"Well, the computer wasn't working and I couldn't figure out how to get online. Savannah needed to do her homework on the computer so I called my sister to see if she could help me out. While I was on the phone with my sister, I heard Clay and Jackson fighting in their room. When I walked back there, Clay was throwing toys at Jackson and Jackson was tackling Clay."

"Ugh," I let out a sympathetic groan.

Joe went on, "I broke up their fight and told Jackson to get in the shower while I filled the bathtub for Clay."

"I went back to the computer and continued to talk to my sister while trying to get online. Meanwhile, Clay pooped in the bathtub. I had to stop again and go drain the tub and clean it out."

Why poop in the toilet when you can poop right there in the tub?
Although I sympathized with Joe, I was also secretly glad I wasn't home to deal with that.

"And then," Joe continued, "Austin and Savannah started fighting and throwing pencils and calculators."

I had just finished telling someone at the retreat that Austin and Savannah never fight. "Oh they get along really, really well," I had bragged.

"Wow, sounds like a rotten night. I'm sorry, " I said.

Then today, out of nowhere, Joe texted me the following: "The smallest dog in history was a tiny yorkie from blackburn england. @2 yr old was 2" tall and 3" long. He weighed 4 ounces!"

I replied to this with the following loving message: "What is wrong with you???"

He responded, "I"m not interacting with any other adults."

LOL! Think he'll appreciate me a little more when I return?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

When in Sonoma...Drink Wine!

Wow, what a fun retreat/workshop this has been so far! I've met so many wonderful authors! These people are just so warm and welcoming and sweet! After dinner last night, we each read a few sentences from our books or projects we're working on. It was really cool to listen to everyone read. We all have different styles and it was so interesting hearing those opening lines. It made me want to go out and buy a bunch of books!

We had some workshops today. We listened to Andrea, an editor from Revell, give an interesting talk about the market. Then I ran to my room during our little break so I could, um, get rid of all the coffee I'd had to drink. My key didn't work. I tried it several times and it just wouldn't work. so I quickly ran (while my legs were crossed, of course) to the front desk to report my clearly defective key.

"Did you put it next to any magnets," the front desk girl inquired.

"No," I said thinking the notion was preposterous. I don't carry magnets around with me.

"Was it near your cell phone? That would demagnetize it," she explained.

I looked down to where both my phone and my key rested in the same palm.


"No problem, moronMrs. Meehan. I'll get you a new key. Try not to screw this one up Have a nice day.

Then we had a workshop where Rachael spoke about incorporating humor into your writing. She gave a fun presentation and ended it with a lemon cream pie in her face. Yes, she did. I love that one of her tips for writing humor was "do stupid things". I made a mental check with that one. Done.

After our lunch, 9 of us went in a limo to a couple wineries for a tasting. I don't know anything about wine, but it was all yummy in my opinion. Many people dumped their wine out after taking a couple sips. But I was taught not to waste food. We took a little tour of the cave where they age the wine and got to taste some out of the barrel. When we returned to the shop I saw another author from the retreat in the store. I shouted an enthusiastic, "HEY!" to her. She looked at me like - do I know you? That's about when I realized she was not, in fact, another author but a complete stranger who thought I was drunk.

From there, we went to a winery owned by B. R. Cohn who is also the manager of the Doobie Brothers. We actually saw him there too! And a cute guy in a tractor, but that's another story... We tasted olive oil and balsamic vinegar there as well. Know what's really gross? Drinking a cup of vinegar. I don't recommend it.

We ended the evening at a restaurant where Bobby Flay supposedly ate last night. The food was super-delicious! Actually, that's where I ended my night. Many others are still up, but I think I'm still on Eastern time and I'm tired. I'm also a little scared that I might have developed a blood clot in my leg so I wanted to prop it up. I can't tell if it's so sore from my nasty varicose veins or if a clot has formed from all the travel and sitting for long periods of time on the plane. We'll see how it is tomorrow.

And speaking of seeing how things are tomorrow, my agent's husband fell earlier today. I'm not sure about the details, but I believe he hit his head and from what I heard, he didn't remember his wife. Obviously she left the conference and went with her husband to the ER. Thankfully they live near here so hopefully his doctor can check on him. Pray for healing for Loch and strength and peace for Janet.

And, as always, here are a few pictures...

olive tree

barrels of wine

the 9 of us wine tour girls at Kunde Estates

my room

Just in case you were thinking about bringing your horse to the park, you can't.

the mission

prettiful view

cute little walkway here in Sonoma. It's a cute little town with a lot of boutique-y shops. And people are really nice. They stop for you when you're crossing the street and they don't even try to hit you.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Home, Sweet (and cold), Home

Let me tell ya, having a washer and dryer in our room was so great!!! I came home and only had to do 2 loads of laundry! Everyone was able to just unpack their suitcase and put their clean, folded clothes into their drawers. Ta Da!

The kids were awesome on the flight home last night. I never heard a peep out of them. Of course, they were all pretty exhausted.

I'm proud that I managed to get myself up and to church this morning too. I even came up with a decent Sunday school lesson to boot!

The kids are all sad we had to leave, but happy to be home at the same time. There's just something about sinking into your own bed. Ahhhhh. I'm excited to make all my pictures and video clips into a vacation movie for the kids to watch! But that'll have to wait. I leave bright and stinkin' early in the morning for California again. My agent is having a retreat/workshop for her clients in Sonoma. (I guess I do get a little vacation from my vacation after all.) I'm looking forward to meeting all these wonderful authors and learning from them. I feel like an out-of-place dork among these professionals, but as long as they don't suddenly stop in front of me while I'm walking, I'm sure I'll love spending time with them and getting to know them all! :)

I'm off to pack and spend a little time with the kids before I have to leave again. It'll be a little strange, after spending every minute with my family 24/7 for the past week, to be by myself for the next few days. And I think I need to come up with something for dinner that Brooklyn will eat. I swear she lived on ketchup, fries, Diet Coke and ice cream last week. I, on the other hand, gained 7 pounds in the last 2 weeks! Sheesh! It probably would've been more like 30 pounds if I hadn't walked 50,000 miles. I think I'll have some lettuce for dinner.

Oh yeah, and I've completely lost my voice. I can't scream at the kids now. I can't talk at all now. :(

Friday, October 24, 2008

Disney Day Seven

We slept in a bit this morning and just hung out in our hotel room while it rained outside. When the rain slowed down, we got ready and headed for Epcot. We got there about noon. I think we checked out every exhibit/ride at the front of the park except for Soaring because the line was really long and they were out of fast passes and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience because, judging by the Bug's Life Show, we figured the little kids would freak out. Tell me, are there any Disney fanatics out there who remember what The Land ride used to be like? I could swear there were fruits and veggies that sang, "Listen to the laaaand, listen to the land." I remember the ride smelling like oranges. It's nothing like I remember. Can anyone back me up on this? Another ride I remember was a submarine in Magic Kingdom. I think it may have been a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride. There's nothing like that there now. Does anyone remember this?

Anyway, we had a fun few hours at Epcot. We left early and came back to our room for sandwiches and cupcakes (it's Joe's birthday today.) While the kids were eating, I walked around the rooms picking up and folding clothes. I gathered coloring books, dolls, toys, and such and got things packed up. Oh my gosh, I didn't realize just how trashed the kids' bedroom had become! HOLY COW! The poor housekeeping people! They must have been scared out of their minds to enter that side of our room! I bet they did Rock, Paper, Scissors with each other to see who got stuck wading through the clothes, toys, and wet towels to make the bed.
Anyway, I saw that there were a ton of questions about Disney, so I thought I'd answer them here since I'll probably miss Sunday Sound Out again this week. (We get home late Saturday night and I leave really early Monday morning.)

You will Twitter won't you? How can we survive a WHOLE week without a Twitter? You've got me hooked!
You and me both! It's a sickness. Can't. Stop. Twittering.

I don't know if you are bringing your own stroller or not, but I am a HUGE fan of the ones that you can rent there...they really are easy to push/steer and great when the smaller kids get tired of walking.
We just used our own stroller every day except for when we did the world pavillion at Epcot. We knew there would be a lot of walking around the countries there so we rented a double stroller that day. You're right, they steer very easily and are easy to push even with a couple bigger kids in them. But it's $31 for a double stroller for the day. Yikes! I suggest people bring their own. Especially if you're flying - who wants to carry little ones through the airport?

Hey Dawn! I, too, spent an entire day at Celebration Hospital when we were there on vacation! Did you get to see much of the city of Celebration?
I only saw the hallway in the hospital. They never even got me in a room while I was there dying of pain.

I have to ask, what was the reaction from the younger kids when they woke up Saturday morning and you told them you were going to Disney that day instead of Monday?
They were really surprised and excited. Lexi said, "Today? We're leaving today?" a couple times.
Where are you staying?
We're staying at the Marriott Grande Vista. The last time we were here, I was so thoroughly impressed with everything. I've been a little disappointed this time. Housekeeping has forgotten to leave us towels a couple times and the room just doesn't seem quite as clean as it was last year. The one side of the room has a nasty, musty smell that just hasn't gone away.

When you get a hotel, do you get two adjoining rooms?
We got a 2 bedroom villa.

Were you able to see the Lion King show? Did you try the train?
We didn't see the Lion King show this time, but we saw it 7 years ago when we were there. It was great! And yes, we rode the train in Animal Kingdom.

SSO question for you: How did you decide to pull the kids out of school for a week for a vacation?
We only took them out 3 days because they had some days off this week. I didn't worry about the younger kids. Austin and Savannah will probably have more work to make up, but they both get really good grades so I wasn't too concerned.

P.S. (Let us know how the SafetyTats work with all the swimming, sunscreen, etc.)
Lexi and Brooklyn are still wearing the same ones I put on them on Sunday. They've had baths, they've gone swimming, and they've had suncreen slathered on them. They're still stuck on and you can still clearly read the phone number. Clay peeled his off after 4 days, so I just stuck a new one on him.

Do all the employees call you princess? Because I found that it doesn't matter how old you are--if you are female you are a princess in the eyes of the Disney employees, and if you are male you are a pirate. Everyone calls you princess
Hmmm, no one's called me a princess. What's up with that???

Are you guys using fast pass? Just wanna make sure!
Absolutely! For those who don't know, some of the more popular rides offer "fast passes". You can put your ticket in a machine near the ride, and the machine will spit out a fast pass that enables you to return to the ride later in the day and bypass the long wait line. You either have a very short wait, or sometimes you can pretty much just walk up and get on the ride.

Poor little Princess Brooklyn. What happened to her chinnie chin chin?

She tripped and hit her chin on an end table in our room. She had just woken up and was still a little loopy when it happened.

I just wanted to say you look so pretty in the family picture and you've gotten so skinny!!
I am so not. It's just the angle. Believe me, I don't put the disgusting, fat pictures of me on my blog!

So did you buy anything in the gift shops? I do love those princess Mickey ears!
Eh, we got a couple gifts for people, passports for all 6 kids, ears for the 3 youngest, a necklace for Jax, and a couple charms for Savannah. Austin has yet to pick out something. Honestly though, the kids have been awesome. They've haven't been asking for stuff at all.

You are scaring me as I plan our trip for the busiest week of the year!! How about some tips about what to do for a princess that is Brooklyn's age to make it as nice as possible? Thanks!
A stroller that reclines so she can sleep! Seriously, I wouldn't recommend doing parks every day like we've done. I had bought these park hopper passes several years ago and they had 7 days on them. I didn't want to waste any, so we've been doing a LOT of park hopping. I think 3 or 4 days of parks with downtime in between the days would be ideal. Just my opinion.

have your younger children had a more difficult time other than for obvious reasons?
They've been troopers! They've all done better than I had hoped actually!
Great family pic and I have to agree I love your shirt....where did you get it?
I got it at Old Navy, but it's a few years old because I'm just that cutting edge with fashion.

Your kids are always going to talk about this. I bet as adults you'll hear "Remember when..." often. So cool.
Yeah, "Remember when Mom lost it and called that grumpy old man a buttmunch?" "Remember when Mom lost Clayton while looking for a table in that restaurant by Small World?" "Remember when Mom and Dad made us see that bug show that scared the crap out of us and scarred us for life?"

You didn't mention the French pastry shop, my all-time must-visit place at EPCOT.
I mentioned it on Twitter. I said I was in France and there was all this wine and all these pastries and I was too full to try any of it. :( I was very sad. I considered making myself throw up so I'd have to room to try some pastries. OK, no I didn't. You know how much I hate vomit!

(Im asking coz of twitter update) which rides were your kids scared of and why?
Jackson was scared of the Dinosaur ride in Animal Kingdom and the Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom. The 4 youngest were scared of the It's Tough to be a Bug show in Animal Kingdom. On the other hand, Lex and Clay surprised me because they weren't scared of the Haunted Mansion or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Lex wasn't scared of Space Mountain or Rock N Roller Coaster either.

Looks like you guys are having a great time! And is Miss Angie from Forida? I'm from Ohio and I spend time in North Carolina yearly. I swear everybody below the Ohio River thinks that people in the north have accents. I've been called a yankee while in NC. Then I've had people from Canada tell me I have a southern accent. Nobody can make up their mind.
Yep, Angie's from Florida and I couldn't have more of a non-accent!

I have to disagree about the Enchanted Tiki House. It may be lame, but I love it. I'm sure it's because I remember that "ride" being featured on the Wonderful World of Color in the 1960s, when Disney World was just being built, and I was fascinated by the animatronics. It's a sweet nostalgic experience for me.
OK, my mom could've written this. This was one of her favorites which was part of the reason I wanted to see it this week. It didn't bring back nostalgic memories for me though and despite the fact they modernized the show with Zazu and Iago, I still thought it was lame.

I was wondering if you could share the name of the hotel you guys are staying in. My family and I are going to Disney in April and I've been looking everywhere online for a hotel/villa that offers a full kitchen and nice pools that's actually a NICE hotel. Would you be able to share that with us?
It's the Marriott Grande Vista. I know there's a Sheraton Vistana down the street that has villas with kitchens and nice pools too. Both hotels also offer activities for kids which is nice if you're not going to parks every day. Those are certainly not the only 2 around either. I just know people who have stayed at both and they were pleased. There are actually dozens around here. I checked sites like Orbitz, Travelocity, and Expedia to get an idea of what was out there and then went directly to the hotel's sites to get the best price. You can use an Entertainment book for coupons if you have one. Maybe even check with a travel agent for any deals. By attending the time share thing, I was able to save several hundred dollars plus they gave us some Disney dollars to use as well. I think you're probably safe if you do a time share at a well-known hotel chain (like Marriott, for example). I think you'll be dealing with professional people who, yes, want to sell time share units, but who also know it's important that you leave with a good feeling about their brand and are willing to come back and or tell friends about it. I'm not sure about this, but that's my theory.

If you want to stay on Disney Property, the All Star Resorts are the least expensive of Disney hotels. If you have a larger family, you may have to book 2 adjoining rooms, but you'll have the free transportation between parks that comes with staying in a Disney hotel. If you're only planning on doing Disney, you won't need to rent a car.

I'm really not any kind of expert on this stuff though. I suggest you go to your library and get The Unofficial Guide to Disney World and/or check out this site -

My friend Denise urged me to make dinner reservations months ago. I kept telling her that I didn't want to be tied down.
"We're more of a "fly by the seat of your pants" kind of family," I insisted.
She came back with, "You know what they call families who don't make dinner reservations in Disney?"
"No, what?" I asked.
"Hungry," she said.

Well we haven't gone hungry and we haven't had to spend tons of money eating out. Although I will admit that it might have been nice to have one or two nice sit-down dinners/breakfasts scheduled. If we ever come back, I think I'll have to break down and make a reservation or two.

Another thing friends told me to do was to come up with a plan of which parks you're visiting on which days. "Map out your route so you'll know which rides to hit first and which ones you should get fast passes for. Decide the most effective way to get to everything on your list.

OK, this is just not us. Sure, maybe we could've done more with less waiting if I'd mapped everything out, but we have six kids! We have to be flexible. We've just kinda gone with the flow this week. There have been very few things we missed. We've gotten to experience tons of things in each park. Because we haven't been tied to a schedule, we've been able to take breaks, eat, go on rides, go to shows whenever we felt like it. If one of the kids was hungry or tired, it was no big deal to grab some drinks and sit down and chill out for a while. This is something to consider, I guess. What kind of family are you? Type A - must have everything planned and know what you're doing when? Or are you a more laid-back, go with the flow, play-it-by-ear type family?

Here's hoping you had a great time at the Hollywood Studios. And I have to know... how do you sleep 8 in the two bedroom villa? I saw the 2 bedroom villa (our original room was a connecting one with the 2 bedroom), and ..
We have 2 king size beds and 2 queen sleeper sofas so it's no problem.

Wow. Ok, weird that the park is closed on Fri and Sat.
OK, I'm just an idiot. The park isn't closed. Along with the maps of the park, they hand out these papers with the current park hours and attraction and show times. On the schedule, it listed park hours for Mon, Tues, and Wed. Then it listed different hours for Thurs, and Sun. It didn't list any hours at all for Fri and Sat. I assumed the park was closed those days. Duh. Of course it's not closed. I'm thinking maybe it was an oversight on this paper? Either that or I'm just extra stupid and, despite examining the paper 5 times, I'm just missing where it lists Fri and Sat hours.

Hey Dawn! Just curious how you guys handle it if you and Joe both want to go on a ride, but not all the kids do. Do you have to ride in two different groups? Which would mean waiting through line twice?!?!
Usually we switch off. When we get in line, we get a "switch ticket". The switch ticket kinda works like a fast pass. I'll go with the older kids while Joe watches the little ones, for example. When I come out, Joe will get in the fast pass line while I watch the little ones. The cool part is that the parent switching off can take up to 3 people with them so they don't have to ride alone. My kids got double rides a few times by doing this.

Did you get in trouble when you took that picture on the Great Movie ride? I took a picture of Mary Poppins when I was on it and I was quickly reprimanded by the tour guide...."I repeat, No Flash Photography!" At which point my kids all laughed and said "Yeah, listen to the rules next time!"
I didn't use my flash. I have a good camera. If there was enough light on the attraction, I just snapped pictures without my flash. If there wasn't enough light, the pictures turned out a bit blurry and I just deleted them.

To quote Ben Franklin:"Guests, and Disney family vacations, like fish, begin to smell after three days. "
Ben Franklin said this, huh? LOL!

How did brooklyn like the flights was she scared at all?
Brooklyn was fine on the flight. She wanted to get up and switch seats as we were landing and got pretty mad that she couldn't, but other than that, the kids were all great on the plane.

foodwise what did you do with Jackson on the trip? Did you keep him on Feingold's, or at least as much as you could?
Ugh. No. We decided we didn't want to even try. Jackson has had a free week and although he's loving every minute of being able to eat what he wants, his behavior has been pretty bad. That part has not been fun. I can't wait to get him back to the diet when we get home.

I just love this face! She was in a mood (as usual).

Fish are friends; not food. People, on the other hand...

Brooklyn didn't want to go near any shark!

and finally, the traditional picture of Brooklyn passed out cold
And here's the video I tried to put up yesterday. This is why you never want to visit parks for more than 2 or 3 days in a row.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Disney Day Six

We've all officially lost it, I think. Austin is tired and weepy. Jackson is being ornery. Clay is off his rocker wacko. Lexi is weepy. Savannah's just tired. Brooklyn is having meltdowns (not that that's different than any other day, of course.) I've lost all patience with all humanity. Let me stress one more time for anyone planning a Disney trip. Do NOT plan on visiting parks every day. Trust me on this one. You can actually tell how many days a person has been visiting parks by the way they act.

When someone holds a door for you or says, "Go ahead," when you're trying to get in line for a ride, you can tell that this is their first day at a park. If you see a person happily snapping pictures of their child in front of every exhibit, it's probably their first day. If you see people browsing through gift shops or saying, "An hour wait really isn't that long. Let's get in line!" assume it's their first day.

If a person accidentally cuts you off, then turns around and says, "Oh excuse me!" you can tell that they're probably on their second day. If you overhear, "I don't want to wait for an hour, let's get a fast pass and come back," it's probably their second day of visiting parks.

If you see someone dragging their child along while that child whines, "I'm tired! Can't we just go back to the hotel and swim?" it's a good bet it's their third day in the wild world of Disney. If that same parent looks like they haven't slept in days and they're walking like there are hot knives stabbed in their calves, it's probably their third day at the parks.

If you're in line waiting for a ride and you see a parent turn to their child and say, through gritted teeth, "Do you have any idea how much this vacation cost? You'd better start showing a little appreciation, young man!" you can safely bet they're on their fourth day of park hopping. If you hear someone say, "Another gift shop??? Does every ride end in a stinkin' gift shop?" it may just be their fourth day touring the amusement parks. If you see a person purposely ram their stroller into the ankles of the idiot who dared to stop in front of them, it's likely they're on their fourth day at Disney.

If you stop in front of someone and that person shoots laser beams from their eyes at you, they're on their fifth (or more) day of park hopping. If you overhear a conversation that goes a little like, "I've spent our mortgage on stupid souvenirs. Don't you dare ask me for anything else!!!" rest assured that person is definitely on their fifth day in the "happiest place on earth". If you hear a parent tell their child, "I am NOT waiting in line for 20 minutes to meet Winnie the Pooh! It's a GUY in a COSTUME! And you know what else? We're never taking another vacation as long as we live!" they're on their last day of touring.

Actually, We did Hollywood Studios today. I didn't even realize the park was closed on Friday and Saturday! It closes on Friday and Saturday??? Crazy. Clearly, I didn't do my research ahead of time. Thankfully we made it there today. We had fun and the weather cooperated for us. It was cloudy and comfortable all day and the rain didn't come until late. The kids were bummed because they really wanted to go on the new Toy Story ride and we didn't get the chance to do it. They were out of fast passes by the time we got there and there was a 100 minute wait. Joe and I were not willing to stand there for more than an hour and a half with 6 kids who were all over-tired. Instead, we walked across the park so we could do the Rock n Roller Coaster one more time. There was an hour wait there. It was a little after 8:00 and we wanted to see the Fantasmic show so we told the kids there wasn't time to go on the roller coaster again.

We got in line for Fantasmic and waited about 20 minutes before deciding that we just couldn't deal with the kids being so tired and crabby/wacko. We decided to just leave. Since we were surrounded by like 5 billion people with no way out other than the wheelchair path, we just walked down the wheelchair path. A grumpy old man in a wheelchair yelled at us, "This is the path for wheelchairs!" (There was plenty of room for him to pass us and the fact that we were trying to escape the hordes didn't block him anyway.) I believe I called him a buttmunch as I walked away. Yes, it was one of my finer moments. As you can tell, it's our fifth day of park hopping.

We made our way to the parking lot and just reached our car when it started raining again. Instead of thinking, "Whew! We made it before the rain! Good choice to leave!", I thought, "Ha ha, the grumpy old wheelchair man is getting wet!" I'm telling ya, Disney brings out the worst in folks (me included!)

This evening I realized my debit card was missing. I'm not sure if I left if at the grocery store or what. I'm going to call the store in the morning and if they don't have it, I guess I'll have to cancel it. Ugh. (I just found it before publishing this post! Hooray! It was in my purse, of all the crazy places....)

The kids have been surprising me. Jackson is afraid of a lot of rides that I never thought he'd be scared of. And Lexi (the same Lexi who cried for like an hour after she went on Journey to Atlantis last year) has become a roller coaster fiend! She loves all of them! Rock n Roller Coaster, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, you name it.

There is no way on earth I'd set foot on the Tower of Terror so I offered to take the 3 little kids to Playhouse Disney while Joe and Austin went on T of T and Savannah and Jackson waited for them. All of us, but Clay and Brooklyn, went on Rock N Roller Coaster. I'd forgotten what a fast start that roller coaster gets. It's like a shot! I love it, but I think I have whiplash. The good thing is, I couldn't catch my breath enough to scream, which made my kids happy.

Here are a couple pictures and a little video that illustrates just how my kids act when they're really tired. (I wasn't able to get the video to work and I'm falling asleep sitting here. I'll try again tomorrow.)

Rock N Roller Coaster

The Wizard of Oz part of The Great Movie Ride

The new Pixar section

The kids around the entrance of The Great Movie Ride

Look familiar? It's a replica of Grauman's Chinese Theater

These were used in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie

Brooklyn asleep again

Joe and the kids on the back lot - looks like San Francisco here

Pizza Planet

A snowman in Florida???

Strong, in this one, is the force

Hee hee hee

Gonzo hanging on the clock

Handy Manny at Playhouse Disney


Yep, that's a good look for you, Jax

the hat

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Disney Day Five

Joe and I sat through our first (and likely last) time share presentation. When I booked this hotel, I was told that they'd knock several hundred dollars off the price if we'd agree to go for a 90 minute golf cart tour of the property. Although I wasn't keen on the idea of having my vacation interrupted by a time share talk, the savings were enough to make me agree to it (after I was assured that my kids could come along with us.)

Long story short - there was no golf cart. There was no tour. There was 90 minutes of talking. I'll admit that the salesperson wasn't annoying or pushy. I mean, of course she was trying to sell a time share unit, but she really wasn't overbearing. The whole plan sounds nice and I understand the benefits to it, but I had to tell her, "Um this is the first non-camping family vacation we've ever taken (other than when Savannah won a 3 day trip to Disney and when the PR folks at Discovery Cove sent us there - we didn't pay for either of those trips.)" I can see where this would be good for the families who vacation every year or every other year, but did you understand the part where I said this is our first family vacation???

Anyway, the kids were actually pretty good there. We declined the time share; the salesperson sent in her manager. We declined his offer and we left. It really was 90 minutes.

After that, we went to the Magic Kingdom again for a few hours. We saw a couple attractions that we didn't have time for the other day. The kids wanted to go on some of the same rides again and we were able to do that today too.

While I was there, I had the chance to meet up with a fellow blogger and Chicagoan, Michelle from It's a weird coincidence that we live near each other, we were both going to Orlando at the same time, we're staying in the same hotel, we both had nasty smelling rooms at first and had to switch, and we both went to Magic Kingdom today! I met her, her sweet parents, and her totally cute kids in Tomorrowland.

We left Magic Kingdom at about 5:30 and came back to our room where we met Angie from and her 2 cutie girls. We ate dinner outside at the pool and watched the kids swim for a while. Angie told me I have an accent. I so do NOT have any kind of accent. She obviously didn't hear the English/Scottish women talking yesterday!

While we were outside at the pool, we saw a guy who looked familiar. It was the crazy ole birdman! It was the same guy we saw when we were at this hotel last year! Really, there's a picture of him HERE from my post about Discovery Cove last year. (BTW, although Disney is fun, Discovery Cove is a fun, relaxing vacation!)

I soaked my aching feet in the hot tub while the kids swam and they feel so much better now. I may eventually walk again. I think I'll probably be able to compile some tips and do's and don't's for Disney World by the end of this week. I'll give you a couple "don'ts" right now though. Don't bother going to the Enchanted Tiki Room. It's lame. If you ride on Aladdin's flying carpet ride, be prepared to get spit on by a camel. (I didn't see that one coming!) Bypass Stitch's Escape because it's kinda stupid for one thing and it'll scare little kids for another. Don't forget your cell phone if you go to the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor. You can text in jokes while you're waiting in line and they may use your joke in the show. I think a lot of the humor goes over the heads of little kids, but it was a short enjoyable show, in my opinion. It was kinda like Who's Line is It Anyway, in that it includes a bit of improv. Because of that, they show will be a little different every time you see it. Skip the Swiss Family Tree House. No kid has a clue about that show. Heck, most adults I know, don't remember the show. Basically, you just walk up like 6000 steps and see a bedroom in a tree house and then you walk down another 21,000 steps to ground. Yes, I counted the steps.

And the last tip for today - Don't plan on visiting theme parks every day of your vacation. Believe me, it is not a vacation to walk 50,000 miles in a week. It's too much for you and the kids. My kids were acting up this morning after the fun-filled time share thing, but thankfully they settled down when we got to the park. I, however, was on a rampage. I seriously fantasized about mowing people over with the stroller all day. Seriously, why do people just STOP in the middle of a walkway??? Why? Do they not notice the 4 billion people walking behind them? Do they not get the concept of moving over to the side of the road or sidewalk? Grrrr.

Other than my near explosion, we had another great day. The weather was beautiful, the park wasn't too crowded and we were able to do a lot of fun things with the kids.

Tomorrow we plan on spending a long day at MGM or Hollywood Studios or whatever it's called these days. It looks like it's supposed to rain the next couple days so maybe the parks will be empty. We'll see.

Here are a few pictures before I hit the sack...

The kids being goofy with, well Goofy.

I had to get a picture of Austin with Dumbo. When he was little, he was obsessed with elephants and he watched our Dumbo videotape so many times, he wore it out. Literally.

Captain Jack Sparrow on The Pirates of the Caribbean ride

The Jungle Boat Cruise

Brooklyn being unusually happy on the monorail

Me and Michelle

Lexi and Brooklyn with Angie's kids, Claire and Anna
(I've got to hand it to Austin and Savannah too. They played with and watched the little kids in the water for a long time this evening. Even our waitress commented on what great teenagers I have and she's right. They're good kids. I'm proud.)

Beautiful view!

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