Archive for February, 2011

Launch day!

Our whole trip to Florida was to see one of the last manned space missions launch into space.  We intended to do a day or two of amusement parks, see the launch, and then finish our vacation with some more amusement parks and drive home at a leisurely pace.  The shuttle was continually postponed.  Dave spent almost the whole time while waiting in lines checking twitter and reading about the problems and fixes with the shuttle.  The day we should have been rolling back into California, we instead headed back to the coast to see the launch.  As we left Orlando, I think we all relaxed just a little bit.  We were done with rushed early mornings, long days filled with not only fun but lots of walking, standing in lines, and a little bit of stress.

We are spur of the moment kind of people.  We are the kind of people who get up one morning and decide to look at houses, and then buy the third one we see.  We’re the kind of people who don’t pick names for our babies until we’re on the way to the hospital.  We’re the kind of people who decide to take a cross-country road trip the month before we do it.  You might call it “a lack of planning skills”, I call it “keeping life interesting”.

We had no idea where we would watch the launch from the next day.  We had no idea where we’d be sleeping that night.  We were winging it, crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.

Once we made our way to Titusville we followed the coast around scoping the best possible spot to see the launch.  We contemplated squatting in what looked like abandoned homes.  Is it technically squatting if you use their driveway and sit in their back yard?  We found a park that is recommended on the internet.  People were sitting on the dock in lawn chairs which they had chained to the ground.  Ingenious.

Dave: “We need some lawn chairs”

Me: “Where will we sleep tonight”

Dave:  “right here!  In lawn chairs!”

Me: “I’m a little chilly.  I don’t think I can sleep in lawn chairs next to a sign that says ‘Beware of crocodiles”.

Dave:  “Okay, we’ll find a hotel.”

Me:  “Maybe we can find a hotel with an ocean view and then we can watch the launch from our room!”

As we were looking for a moderately priced hotel (please read cheap), we saw a line of motorhomes in the dirt on the side of the road.

Me:  We could go buy a motorhome and park it right there with those guys.

Dave:  Don’t tempt me.

Me:  Providence, there’s  an RV sales center.

Dave:  Do you think they will take a kid in trade?

Me:  Probably not.

Dave:  How about the .08 I have left after this amusement park extravaganza?

Me:  That might get us a good laugh.

Dave:  We could camp there. In a tent.  Let’s do it!

Me: Okay.

Dave:  Really?

Me:  Sure!  Lets find a walmart and buy a tent and some sleeping bags and we’ll camp.

And we did.  Flying by the seat of our pants.  We bought two small tents, some blankets, a movie to watch in the car, junk food and dinner.

We set our tents up just as the rain began to fall.

Me:  “Do you think they are going to postpone the launch?”

Dave:  “No, I think the rain will clear and tomorrow will be beautiful! A perfect day to see history!”

We settled into the van and watched Harry Potter.  After the movie we put the kids to bed and talked to our fellow space enthusiasts (who mostly turned out to be crazies).   Thank goodness for children, they are the perfect excuse to get you out of almost anything.

Me: “Oh no, I think I hear the kids.  I better go check on them.”

Dave:  “I’ll help you.”

We then spent the absolutely worst night ever in our new tents.  It was cold and rainy and windy and wet.  The ground was lumpy and hard and we didn’t have pillows.  Sunrise couldn’t come fast enough.

Me:  “I sure hope they launch today because I don’t think I can spend another night like that one.  How the heck did I get wet?  And what happened to the hot weather of yesterday?  I am FREEZING!”

Me: “I sure hope we never end up in a situation where I have to choose between myself or the kids, because I’m not sure they’d survive.  I was pretty close to stealing their blankets and using them as a pillow.”

Dave: “Good thing you don’t have to.  The launch has been postponed again.  Until next month.  Let’s pack up the car.”

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Animal Kingdom Take 2

As a small aside that has nothing to do with Disneyworld, I have a funny little anecdote that I think about e.v.e.r.y. single time I see, hear, think, talk about the Lion King. I went to my best friend’s daughter’s Catholic baptism (that’s sure a lot of possessive nouns) a few years ago. The priest was from Africa, he had a very thick and heavy African accent which made him very hard to understand. I wasn’t tracking the whole process very well because it was all a little confusing and hard to follow. I was even day dreaming a bit. That was until I heard, “Hakuna Matata! It means no worries for the rest of your days!” I kid you not, the African priest, quoted a song sung by a cartoon meerkat in a Disney movie. You really can’t get more awesome than that.

Back to the vacation that never seems to end.

We had one extra day at Disneyworld. We put it up to a vote and the kids chose Animal Kingdom. I’m not quite sure what we did on this second day except for characters, characters, and more characters. We also watched a parade, but only because we were trapped and forced to watch it.

The one thing I love about Animal Kingdom is that they aren’t afraid to use the minor characters. Sure, Mickey and Minnie were there in their safari clothes, but there were quite a few characters that we didn’t even know their names. Really any character that is part animal or insect is free game. Like this guy:

“I think he’s from Tarzan”

“No, I think that he’s a she”

“What’s its name?”

“no idea”

(that’s Mike looking at his/her signature to find out his/her name)

“It’s Turk!”

“So is it a boy or a girl?”

Everyone loved Flick.

Mike: “Why don’t we ever see ants stand up in real life?”

Me: “Why don’t we ever see ants with 4 legs or the absence of an abdomen?”

Mike: “Huh?”

Dave: “Really, I want to know why I’ve never seen an ant smile like that.”

Me: “For that matter, why haven’t I ever seen a blue ant before? I feel gyped”

Mike: “I wish that mean grasshopper was here and then they could fight to the death. That would be cool to watch. They should have a show like that!”

This picture may depict one of my most favoritest (love that don’t you) memories of Disney World. We were next in line to see Baloo and King Louie when the Cast Member told us that King Louie needed to eat a banana and Baloo needed a water break and would be leaving before our turn but someone else would be coming soon to replace them.

Dave: I really wanted a picture with the King of the Jungle and Baloo.

Cast Member: I know, but King Louie is really hungry and Mowgli just picked him a large bunch of bananas.

Dave: What if I sing the Bear Necessities song? Will they take a picture with us if I sing?

Cast Member: If you can sing the whole song, you might convince them to stay.

and Dave proceeded to sing the whole song, start to finish. That is one of the many reasons I married this guy.

After we took our pictures with countless animal clad people we made our way to the animal sanctuary portion of the park. Dave took the boys into the petting zoo because I do not do petting zoos. Something about too many animals with an insatiable appetite in an enclosed space makes me nervous. The twins loved it.

“Can we get a goat?”


The goat jumped on the bench to get away. Little did he know that our kids are climbers.

“Hey, Goat! I’m talking to you. Can you see me?”

“Mommy, can we get a goat?”

“No, wash your hands.”

“I did”

“Here is some hand sanitizer. Sanitize them.”

After the animals we let the kids choose whichever rides they wanted. The twins chose a dumboesque type ride. They’re really lucky they have a sister that loves them enough to take them on it over and over again.

The bigger kids all chose rides that the twins weren’t quite tall enough for. They did convince them to ride the water ride again. This of course led to everyone being soaked and Jacob crying for hours.

While the bigger kids rode the dinosaur ride, Dave and I took the babies on the dinosaur trail. To you and me, this dinosaur looks completely fake and cheesy. To a three-year-old this dinosaur is rather realistic and at any minute might stop playing possum and tear you limb from limb. Jacob might look like he’s smiling, but that’s a cheesy smile covering his sheer terror. It was rather comical. Dave would knock on the dinosaur and Nathaniel would flinch, waiting for it to reach out and bite Dave’s head off.

And that concluded our Disney extravaganza.

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The one with the hat

Please note the dichotomy of our outfits.  We’re all in tank tops and shorts except for Nathaniel who wore a sweatshirt.

Nate:  “It looks cold.”

Me:  “But it’s not, it feels like a 1000 degrees” (I love hyperbole)

Nate: “It looks like rain”

Me:  “But it’s still hot. Don’t you want to take off your sweatshirt?”

Nate:  “No.”

Me:  “You are wearing your hood now?  We are all practically melting in this humidity”

Nate:  “It is raining”

Me:  “I think you are imagining it.  You are probably sweating so much, you think it’s rain”

And this was how we worked our way around this theme park, negotiating whether or not it was hot or not.

Of course we also stood in line to see every character possible.

We all where a little grumpy by this point. 4 days of non-stop excitement directly following a 4 day non-stop car ride will do that to you.  We were hot and miserable and not to mention a little tired.  The kids wanted to ride Tower of Terror as soon as we entered the park, Dave wanted to see all the shows.  Dave won.

We asked a Disney employee for directions to the Jedi training. He proceeded to tell us which order we should do the park.  His idea had us zigzagging back and forth all day long, separating for a good portion, and starting with Tower of Terror.  This only added to the kids grumpyness.  “Grumble, grumble, I don’t want to see a show, grumble grumble, Tower of Terror.”

“You will have fun darnit!”

It also made us late for the Jedi training and we stood in line for almost an hour before they threatened to cancel due to the chance of rain.  Great!

“Grumble grumble, Tower of Terror!”

“You will have fun darnit!”

We weren’t only on a character hunt during our vacation, but Marshall decided to collect squashed pennies.  51 cents at a time he worked his way around the Disney parks.

We were able to see almost all of the shows and ride quite a few rides before the torrential down pour.

Dave:  “Hey, where are those ponchos you brought all the way from California?”

Me:  “At the hotel.”

Dave:  “That’s a great place for them to be.”

Me:  “I know, nice and dry”

Thank goodness for that downpour.  The rain washed away our cranky attitudes.  It also cleared out the park.  The lines were gone.  We were thankful we saw all of the shows before the rain cancelled everything. This was a good thing because the kids favorite part of the whole park was the Indiana Jones Show.


The only downside to the rain was that it also scared Jesse and Woody away.  Who knew they were made out of sugar.

With all of the shows out of the way, the characters all seen, and the pennies all squashed we made our way to Tower of Terror.  The kids and Dave couldn’t have been happier.  I think they rode it 8 times in a row with no wait.

While Dave and the big kids rode the elevator up and down, Nate, Jake and I ate ice cream and more ice cream.

After the Tower of Terror, we finished our day with the Aerosmith ride.

Marshall:  This line is really loud!

Dave:  Of course it is, this is ROCK AND ROLL!

Marshall:  That’s why I like Enya.  (Okay, he didn’t really say that, nor does he like Enya.)




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Animal Kingdom

We carefully planned out our trip in order to trick-or-treat while on vacation.  We went to 5 parks in 5 days and were there when they opened and stayed until they closed.  We rode all the rides, saw tons of shows and got the most possible out of the over priced admission.

As Dave said, “If Disney was a wet towel, by the end of our vacation I want to have wrung it dry, and then be sucking on the ends.  Every last drop!  Leave not a drop undrunk!”

So, for Halloween we went to Animal Kingdom because it closed at 5pm.

The only thing that we didn’t like about Animal Kingdom was the lack of air conditioning.  We chose the hottest day of our whole vacation to visit the animals.  The humidity was horrendous.  It was miserable.  So miserable that the kids and Dave convinced me to ride a water ride. I tried getting out of it because of the toddlers.

“I’m sure they are too short”.  Low and behold though, they cleared the line by millimeters.  “I’m sure that they won’t like it.  You guys don’t want to go on the scary water ride do you?  Oh, you do?  What if I told you that their might be flesh-eating piranhas in the water? Oh, you’re still willing?  Fine.  I’ll go!”

I honestly, don’t see the attraction of water rides.  Sure, they’re fun, until you get wet.  And then you’re stuck walking around for the rest of the day in moist clothes.  In Florida nothing seems to dry quickly.  Jacob was more than a little miserable about being wet.  He cried and whined for a good hour about being forced onto a ride that made his shorts and shoes wet.  “Buddy, I didn’t force you, remember I said it was scary and there was a chance of death!”

Alas, we continued our day wet and miserably hot.  So miserable, I broke down and bought $4.00 ice creams, practically the cost of buying a whole container at the grocery store.  I was even willing to pay for the overpriced Nemo lunch until I found out that there was no air conditioning in the restaurant.

The heat and humidity did fit perfectly with the theme of the Jurassic period. 

Poor Dave had to go on the most ridiculous ride with the older kids while the younger ones and I visited many dinosaurs along the most humid trail ever.  But when he told me the building was nice and cool, I gladly volunteered to take the kids for a second time.  This picture makes me crack up every single time I see it.   Please notice the back row.

And we can’t forget our quest for all of the characters.

Somewhere around character 12, Nathaniel finally lost the battle with sleep.

Me: “Don’t you want to see Donald Duck?”


Me:  “He’s wearing a safari suit?”


Dave: “Do you want some soda?”

Me:  “David, you can’t give our 3-year-old soda!”

Dave: “Remember our motto? Leave no drop undrunk!  Natey, you want a candy bar?”

Nate:  candy?

With caffeine and sugar we were able to get pictures with all of the characters in their adorable safari costumes.

and thankfully with a steady supply of sugar from all of the Halloween candy we were able to make it through trick-or treating.  One of the downsides of trick-or-treating out of state is you don’t know where you should be trick-or-treating at.  We drove around until we found some residential houses.  Apparently though, in Orlando you’re not allowed to park on the street. So we parked in the driveway of a foreclosed home.  We’re rebels like that.  After we zigzagged throughout the neighborhood and moved our car from abandoned home to home, and listened to the teen and a constant nonstop barrage of complaints about the candy and lack of other teens, and we filled our bags with sufficient amounts of candy according to the monster and army guy, we headed back to our hotel.



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