Monday, March 31, 2008

March 2008 Round Up

Blinkie by: Jo's Blinkie Obsession (no longer active)

Monthly Round Up idea borrowed from Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

I'm still pretty tired from our trip, so this will be rather more cryptic than normal.

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
Nothing, as usual. But I should have something to put here next month!

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
We officially started watching Dancing with the Stars. Don't recall any movies really, certainly not any new ones.

What special days did I celebrate and how?
My grandmother's birthday was early in the month, so we went out to visit with her. My grandfather's birthday was late in the month, so we just sent a card. Luke got an Easter basket this year. First one since his first Easter, I think. (I know, we're sad.)

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
We gave my grandmother some potted tulips and a birdcage for her birthday, since she still has her own home.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
I was sick forever, it seems like. So was DH. Finally got that kicked, though.

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
Disney, as is usual for March. Also got to meet Glenda, Belinda, and Kay from the boards while we were there. Luke took his first plane ride, and I visited family in Arkansas for the first time in nearly 30 years.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
Not sure a turkey leg from Disney counts. That's really about it. Wait, not it's not! I had corned beef and cabbage for the first time. My friend Cyndi cooked it for St. Patrick's Day and had a few folks over. It was quite good (even the cabbage, which I usually think smells awful, but hers didn't).

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
Nothing particular comes to mind.

What were this month's disappointments?
Still being sick, after having already had one round of antibiotics. Took two to get rid of it, but it is finally gone. Just in time for allergies to start. Yay. Luke hurt a little girl at school, seemingly on purpose, but it hasn't happened again, so we're hoping it was an isolated incident.

What were my accomplishments this month?
I finally feel like I might have some idea of what I am doing at work. And I did talk to my boss, and she said she expects at least a six month ramp-up period, so as far as she is concerned, I'm doing just fine. Good to hear, since I was convinced she was going to call and fire me at any time.

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?
He suddenly demonstrated that he can hop on one foot. That was a surprise. Not sure when that is supposed to emerge, but he just started doing it one day, and we were rather shocked. It's not like that was something we had worked on.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
Had a tornado rip through downtown Atlanta at mid-month, first one in downtown Atlanta in the city's history. We were fine, but lots of windows were missing from downtown and midtown buildings. Also tore up Oakland Cemetary, causing 70 of the trees it was named for to have to be removed. :-( It's a place I always wanted to go but never did, and now I will have missed it in all its glory. I think that's it.

Currently feeling: worn out

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I want a new drug

Or, more precisely, I need one. I went back to the doctor today. I have been coughing for the better part of six weeks now and I'm running a low-grade fever (again!). I think this second round of coughing was triggered by that viral thing my doctor said was running around, but it hit when I wasn't quite over the bronchitis, so that have the bacteria a chance to stick around longer than normal. She said she can hear it right under my sternum, but my lower lungs are clear (good!). So I am now on a "step 3" antibiotic. I don't think that is a technical term, it's just the way she explained it to me. I started out on a basic one, the next step up is something that I don't tolerate well, so we're moving up yet another step. One pill once a day for 5 days, so not too bad, and she said that this should *definitely* take care of it. Also got a Diflucan prescription "just in case," but it will only be filled if needed. This particular antibiotic shouldn't cause a problem, but it is my second one in a month, so there is some potential. Allergies are exacerbating my lung issues, so she also gave me a prescription for Allegra at my request (since I can afford the generic, as our insurance won't cover it, and neither Claritin nor Zyrtec work for me), and I have a refill on my blood pressure medication. Plus I'm due for a new pack of BC pills. I'll be a walking pharmacy when I leave Target tonight!

Currently feeling: ready to be well!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Good Morning Mommy!

First, a little background: Most school day mornings, DH is off to work a couple of hours before Luke gets up. That means I get up with him, I get him fed, I get him dressed, and I take him to school. On weekends, DH lets me sleep in, so he gets up with Luke, but because it is the weekend, they have fun! They watch Superdog, they eat breakfast, they watch movies, they run around, they play LEGO Star Wars.... how can I possibly compete with that on school mornings? We have 20-30 minutes to get it all done and get out the door, plus I limit television to something remotely worthwhile (Blue's Clues or Sesame Street). Consequently, most school mornings since he has been in his "big boy bed," he comes into our bedroom, realizes DH is not there, plops down in the floor, and starts crying because it is a "mommy day." What a wonderful way to start the morning, no?

Most weeks, he will have diminished to a sulk instead of a cry by Friday, so even though DH is actually still home (he works from home on Fridays), he doesn't get to hear how bad it can be, particularly on Mondays (after two days home with "fun daddy"). Last Friday, though, he got a pretty good demonstration when Luke began wailing as soon as he came in asking for Daddy and I replied, "no, it's a mommy day today." I think it finally sunk in for DH what I live with most mornings of the week.

So perhaps you can understand my confusion when this happened this morning, as described in a series of text messages between DH and me:

DH: How did L do this morning? [Note: This is a standard question from DH on most days when he checks on me around lunch to see how my day is going.]

ME: L did fine. No fussing. In fact, if I wasn't dreaming, I think he opened the door and said "Good Morning Mommy!" I was shocked. Still not sure I didn't imagine it.

DH: LOL! Last night he asked if I was getting up with him. I told him it would be a school day and you would get up with him. I told him to go into the room and say 'good morning mommy' and no fussing. After practicing, I told him I would ask you about it tonight. I'm so proud!

Well, so am I. That was so sweet of him! (Both hims, in fact.)

Currently feeling: well loved by my boys

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter 2008

Just pics today.

Happy Easter or Equinox or Purim or Holi, or whatever you celebrate around this time. And for those who do not celebrate anything, then happy day to you.
Currently feeling: hoppy

Friday, March 21, 2008

It has been a year now

And I still miss her terribly.

Currently feeling: rather sad

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Disney 2008: Chapter 5 - The Blustery Day

Saturday. Wow, what a wild day! We had our usual morning waffles, got all packed, and started loading the car. Sounds simple, right? Yeah, not so simple in 40+ mph winds (that would be 65+ km/h for all my metric friends). I have never in my life been out in wind like that. It was a beautiful day! Some clouds, but lots of blue sky, and no rain. Just WIND! I'm sure I've seen wind like that (we had some humdinger storms where I grew up), but it was from safely behind glass and sheet rock. It was insane. It was the first time in my life I have ever *literally* been unable to move forward because the wind was blowing hard enough to push me back. It blew the vertical clearance sign right off the chain it was hanging from at the covered entrance to the hotel (I saw it fly away). There were palm tree branches everywhere. We even saw one of the traffic lights hanging off of the pole it had previously been bolted to; the wind blew it right off. So, remember the balloon picture from yesterday? The giant 2-foot balloon? Yeah, guess who got to carry it out to the car? ::rolls eyes:: Good thing it was me, though. I don't care what they showed on Mythbusters; if Luke had been carrying that thing, I think the wind would have picked him up and blown him away! LOL

Anyway, we got all packed up and headed out to Downtown Disney. I was so afraid we were going to be late, since we were leaving about 30 minutes after I had intended, and DH and I still had to hit the pin store before my "date." I was meeting up with some of my virtual friends from the TWBB/Wagon. I love meeting BB folks in person! It's always so cool! Glenda (The Weather Goddess) found me first, and she and I were hanging out (in the wind!) at Ghirardelli when Belinda and Kay (and Kay's daughter) found us. Belinda and I have often joked that we must be separated sisters. See for yourself! (I think she got the skinny genes, LOL!) I know the picture is small, but here we are. Glenda came all the way from Canada and skipped out on a morning at the parks just to see us! L-R: Belinda (clioratha), J (Kay's daughter), Kay (extrememom24), me, Glenda (Wx4caster).

I sent Mom, DH, and Luke off to the Lego store to keep them busy. The rest of us got to know each other while we were standing outside waiting for Ghirardelli to officially open (they shooed us out once), trying to stay warm in the "stiff breeze." The shade here was in a crook of the World of Disney store, right near one of the doors, so despite not being in the sun, it was still warmer than being out in the wind. We hadn't been talking for more than just a couple of minutes when a terrified squirrel ran right past us, the sound of thundering small feet following close behind. Sure enough, a young child came careening around the corner a moment later. To save itself, the squirrel hurtled itself into the open door to the World of Disney, followed closely by the little boy. Don't you have parents?

Hold it.

I think that was MY little boy! Where are your handlers? You know, the grown-ups I sent you with who are supposed to be watching out for you? All of this had happened in just a few seconds, of course, and sure enough, here came Mom and DH right behind him. We had discussed (several times!) not chasing the ducks while we were at the Magic Kingdom, that it's not nice and it scares them. Apparently, some of that sunk in, and when a squirrel walked up very close to Luke on the way to the Lego store, Luke was very slow and gentle and managed to get even closer. Then he took that one tiny step too close, and the squirrel bolted. Well, at that point, what else could he *possibly* do but give chase? ::sigh:: Anyway, Mom and DH managed to drag him away, despite him being rather excited about the squirrel being inside the store (I swear, he's going to be the hall monitor at school). Someone inside had managed to keep it from getting too far in, but it wasn't coming out until Luke was away from the door (can't really blame the poor thing). So, we got the child, the grown-ups, and the squirrel all squared away, they all headed to the Lego store, and we headed on into Ghirardelli to sit and chat some more.

We barely talked about stitching! Everyone got something to eat or drink except me. Well, and Glenda, since they lost her order; she finally had to ask about it, and then they brought her the wrong thing. We got it worked out. I only got to stay about an hour after we went inside, and we talked more about Disney than stitching. (BTW, long time Disney fans, Kay is raising her daughter right. She's only in high school, but she calls it the PeopleMover!) But we did get to see Belinda's pieces (the ones she designed), and her finished TFT, which is simply stunning! I know Kay had some of her pieces in the car, which the others got to see. I'm sorry I missed it. But I had another date, this time with a hot Latino!

I am, of course, referring to Javy Lopez, once again of the Atlanta Braves, and looking rather nice in his spring training uniform, I must say. Yet again, I didn't get many pictures, not a single one of Luke, DH, and me together at the game. This was, yet again, my own fault, primarily due to my lack of planning. But this particular slight came early in the planning process. With all the up-coming time off my mom will be taking from work, I just assumed she would be unable to go with us this year to Disney, so I only bought three tickets to the game. When I mentioned our trip, I found out she could go, and I felt really bad for not asking her first! So we did invite her, and we just got another ticket. Naturally, by the time we figured all of this out, there were no seats available near us, so we had three tickets in the lower level directly behind home plate about 12 rows back, and two other tickets in the upper deck (in case two of the four of us wanted to go sit in them for a while for a change of scenery). It was hot (how there can be gale force winds outside the stadium and not a puff of breeze inside still baffles me), it was crowded, we got there later than normal.... it just didn't work out for pictures, and I hate it. Here are a few that I did manage to get, though:

Most of those were as we were leaving. We only stayed about 3 innings, most of that spent somewhere other than our seats for me, which was fine. We were all tired, and we couldn't sit together, and it was hotter than we planned. Oh, and did I mention that none of us put on sunscreen until after we got there? Yeah, that was stupid, and Luke and I were a nice light to medium shade of lobster by the time we left. That's what happens when you don't follow your own sunscreen rules! It was mainly just Luke's ear, thank goodness, but my arms and cheeks were a particularly lovely shade of rose, and my part (in my hair, where my scalp shows) was fried. That was not the first day of sun for it, and I paid for it. It was gone in a couple of days, though, and no peeling for anyone, so we lucked out there.

Luke conked out almost before we left the park. Naptime is usually 1 PM, and it was after 2 by this point. Maybe next year we can request that they play a 4 PM game just for us? That would be nice. 1 PM (naptime) and 7 PM (bedtime) games just don't really work for us. That's not too much to ask, right? Anyway, we hoped to make it all the way to Brunswick before he woke up, but no such luck. He woke up somewhere on the Jacksonville bypass, so we stopped at the new shopping complex near the airport to eat at Cracker Barrel. We couldn't believe there weren't more people there. Even Mom said she had never seen it that empty (they go to Jax fairly frequently). They sure were hopping by the time we left, though! Seems like we got to my parents' house just before 8, put Luke to bed without much trouble, had show and tell of what we bought, and turned in pretty early.

We had lunch at Spanky's (a family favorite) before heading out on Sunday. Five piece basket with spuds, please! I drove a fair portion of the way home on Sunday so DH could sleep. Did I mention it was race weekend in Atlanta? Yeah, I don't think it's exactly fair to have Bike Week and a Nascar race in Atlanta all while we're trying to get to Florida and back! So we took some little road from Dublin until it hit I-20 well east of the city (and the track!). Took us an extra hour to get home, but I imagine it would have taken even longer if we'd tried going straight up I-75 past the track. That thing backs up for miles. Why yes, we've made the mistake of driving home from somewhere on race weekend before, why do you ask? All in all, a good trip. We're looking forward to actually spending more than 2 days at the parks on an up-coming trip, maybe a week or so, hopefully in either 2009 or 2010. We still have to get all that worked out. And I promise to plan better next time!

Hope you enjoyed the trip report! See you next year....

Currently feeling: mouse-lover, signing off

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Disney 2008: Chapter 4 - Star Tours and Snacks

Our morning went more or less the same as Thursday, except that we had to wake him up. I know, I know! At least he did spring right up out of bed this time (not like Thursday after nap), so that was good. I told you, we really should have planned this better! And it didn't help that we had changed what little plan we had after we arrived in Orlando. We really wanted to take Luke to the Car Stunt Show at MGM, excuse me, Disney-Hollywood Studios (rolls eyes; that is going to be SOOO hard to break!), but the times just were not convenient. So instead of spending the afternoon there with not much to do, we decided to hit it first thing, ride what we absolutely had to ride with not much of a line, hit our three favorite shops, then hit the Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day. The auto stunt show can wait another year, especially when we already had one new thing for Luke to do this year: Star Tours! But in order for the plan to work with our lunch reservations at the Magic Kingdom, we had to be there *before* the official opening. Mom and I were on the right side of the crowd, ready to walk quickly (*not* run) to the Rockin' Roller Coaster as soon as the rope dropped, while DH and Luke waited on the other side to walk quickly to Star Tours. As I looked back, I got this shot. I would have killed for a stronger zoom! It was just so sweet. (I cropped the heck out of this picture; not sure the cropped version is large enough to print clearly.)

So, after Nana and I hit RRC, we headed back to Star Tours via the Villain Store, just to see if it was worth coming back to spend time in. Better than last year, when they had *nothing* but Jack Skellington and Jack Sparrow, but still nothing worth buying (except one shirt that did not come in my size), so we kept moving. By the time we got to Star Tours, the boys had already ridden twice! No motion sickness for Luke, apparently (thank goodness! something he doesn't get from me). I went through the queue with them for their third and final ride so I could take some pictures (Luke was in such a hurry that almost none of them turned out), then I bailed out right before entering the ride vehicle and waited in the shop. Got a couple of shirts for Luke, and I desperately wanted the Jedi Mickey big-fig, but it wasn't for sale (and we probably couldn't afford it anyway). And after years of complaining, they finally redesigned their Jedi Training Academy badges. Why is this significant? Because the previous version did not include the name Luke! How does a Star Wars something *not* have that name as an option?!! But this one did, and he does now recognize his name, so he was very excited. Woo-hoo! Mom took him outside to have a snack while DH and I paid. Didn't do too much damage, over all. Also got a speeder shot, thanks to Mom. This may be our annual shot to compare from year to year to see how much he has grown and changed.

We hit the Indiana Jones store on the way out, but there wasn't really anything new, then headed on over to the Magic Kingdom for lunch at Tony's. That seemed to take an unusually long time due to the rain. Yes, more rain! We arrived just in time for our lunch reservation, enjoyed our food, but Luke was seriously crashing afterwards, so we headed on back to the hotel without doing a single ride. Again, could have planned better, but also we thought he would be good until 1 PM or so. Lesson learned: lunch reservations only if you intend to be in that park for the morning. That is a rule we generally follow, but this experience just reinforced it. Back to the hotel for a nap, which went better since we put Luke down in the bedroom and DH and I unfolded the sleeper sofa in the other room (we had a 1BR suite). Not bad for nap, but not comfortable enough to sleep on all night while the child hogged the room with the king bed (like last year!).

Up from nap a little early, around 2:30. Got him a snack and some juice, I changed shorts (had been wearing very light khaki ones, which do not play well with rain), and we headed back out. I had also made an executive decision about dinner. Vacation is the time to do something fun, things you don't normally do. For Leap Day at Luke's school, they had popcorn. Ever since, he has been asking for some. We didn't have any at home (because I kept forgetting to buy some!), so as soon as he saw the popcorn carts, he started asking for it. So, for dinner, I decided we would all just eat from the snack carts! Well, mostly. And that's not as bad as it sounds. Mom and I had been oogling the caramel corn at Sleepy Hollow, and I was dying to have a roasted turkey leg. I had my first and only one at RenFaire a few years ago, and it was so yummy! DH didn't want to play along, so he got a burger and fries from Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Cafe (conveniently right across from the turkey leg cart in Frontierland), which is somewhere that no one in our party had ever eaten. Hey, a Disney first for all of us! We gathered up our snacky foods, plopped down in the back dining room that had only one other family, and had an absolute ball. Luke ate the entire small popcorn (3-4 cups, probably) all by himself. I think he passed out a few kernels to each of us (he's so sweet), but that was it. And did I take a single picture of Luke and his special popcorn dinner? NO! Sheesh. In my defense, my hands were nasty from man-handling the turkey leg that Mom and I split, but it was finger lickin' goo-oo-oo-ood.

Luke had been begging to ride the train that runs around the park. I remembered from last year that there really wasn't much to see between the Main Street and Frontierland stops, but that Frontierland to Toontown had a few Native American scenes here and there (and it was a short distance). We loaded up, had all kinds of fun waving to people as we pulled away, and headed for the Barnstormer. (Again, not many pictures. I was terrible this trip!) With the rain and all, there was almost no one in the park, so we literally walked right up to the ride, waiting at most one train before boarding. As last year, Luke was hysterical at the thought of getting off, even if we told him that we would ride again. He just didn't understand why he couldn't stay on (there were people waiting to ride). Seems like we rode 5 times or so. After the last time, Luke was inconsolable when we told him that we were leaving, but perked right up when we said we were headed for Buzz Lightyear. All day long, when we asked if he knew where we were going, he would say "Buzz Lightyear to get Zurg!" Finally, we were going! Again, no pictures, but we rode 5 times or so before leaving.

Seems Friday was the day for fulfilling promises. We had gotten him popcorn, just as we said we would. We had gone back to Buzz Lightyear, as we had promised all day we would. Now it was time for the last "we'll do that tomorrow" promise: a balloon. Now, I have to tell you, the wind was ridiculous Friday night (nothing like it would be Saturday morning, but we'll get to that next time). As we headed for Main Street, I wasn't even sure if the balloon people would be out in such ghastly weather, but sure enough, there they were, albeit hiding in the sheltered spots between some of the buildings (and I don't blame them!). I walked up to the girl on our side, who was not much taller than me and wrangling 50 or so balloons. The wind was blowing so hard that the balloons were not hovering several feet above her head like normal; the ribbons were almost parallel to the ground and the balloons were about eye level for adults. It was wild! We asked if there was any way to get a green one (Luke's choice), and she plucked it right out of the bunch without even blinking. It's not like the ribbons were different colors to show what balloon she was grabbing; they were all white! And she threaded the weights onto it with just one hand. I take it this was not her first time! It was one of the more impressive things I've ever seen at Disney (Tigger signing the mini-Magnadoodle not withstanding).

I was so amazed with her skills, that I took a picture as she did it (above). And she completely froze. I was so afraid I had unintentionally done something wrong by photographing her, though what possible reason there could be for it, I could not even begin to guess. She slowly turned around to look at me over her shoulder and spoke very seriously. "Please tell me that was you taking a picture." Um, yes; is that okay? "Oh yes, it's fine. I was just afraid it was close lightning! I was about to run for cover." I felt so bad for scaring her! It did indeed start raining right about then, so we headed on out. Given that it was our last trip leaving the park, we let Luke choose how we left, and he chose the Monorail. There were lots of other folks waiting, but we only had to watch one train leave before we boarded ourselves. Even Luke's balloon didn't take up too much room. Luke entertained himself by standing on DH's feet. I love this picture so much, I just had to put it in here (sorry).

Note: Remember the blaster keychain I talked about for Pirates? That's it hanging from his beltloop. I also included a photo of Luke holding the balloon just to give you some idea of the scale of it. It's not the best picture, but you can see that it is nearly 2 feet tall. This will be important for the next (final) entry.

Currently feeling: flying high

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Disney 2008: Chapter 3 - Crystal Palace

Ah, the necessary requirement for enjoying a trip to Disney with a young child: a nap! And this is where things started to fall apart on this trip. We were running later than I intended, according to my loose mental schedule. We didn't get back to the hotel until after 2 PM (was aiming more for 1-1:30), and for all that being late, I don't feel like we did much. Just Pirates (taking 20 minutes total there didn't help), Big Thunder (nearly an hour), and the carousel, plus lunch. No Peter Pan (it was closed, waaahhh), no it's a small world, no Winnie the Pooh, nothing. By the time we get Luke all tucked in, it is 2:15. We were also trying something new: napping with him in the same room. The previous night, we had slept all in the same room, but he was in bed and asleep alone in the room before we came in. Trying to all lay down together at the same time? Yeah, really not working. He wanted to play, he wanted to talk, he wanted to share his stuffed animals since we didn't have any (and how can you possibly nap without a lovey?), which was very sweet, but really honey, you need to lay down right now and sleep! We didn't get him settled down until close to 3, which means he hadn't even been asleep for 90 minutes when we had to wake him up, otherwise we'd miss our 5 PM dinner reservations at The Crystal Palace.

Now, I told DH that I would just cancel and we would let him sleep, but DH wouldn't hear of it. It was the first time we had managed to make reservations at The Crystal Palace in at least 5 years, and he knew I really did not want to cancel. I, however, was willing to do so, for everyone's sake and sanity, because I knew he would be intolerably grumpy if we woke him up. DH disagreed. "He'll be fine. Once he remembers that he gets to ride Buzz Lightyear after we eat, he'll perk right up." Um, not, but we didn't know that until we woke him, and by then, it was too late. Joy. So we wake the child up and pack him up in the car, still sleepy and rubbing his eyes, force feeding him a snack and juice on the way to the park. Note to self: No more dinner reservations as long as naps are on the schedule. Lunch reservations, and only at the park where we will be spending the morning (see next chapter).

Did I mention that it was now raining? Yeah. Now, I generally don't mind doing rides and such in the rain, but the thought of getting soaked (it was pouring) on the way to the park, just to freeze while eating dinner in an air conditioned restaurant did not appeal to me. But with no rain coats (I hate ponchos) and the umbrellas useless in the strong wind, we had little choice. By the time we hoofed it down Main Street, the covered porch for The Crystal Palace was *packed* beyond all reason. There had also been a massive influx of people due to the Pirate and Princess Party scheduled for that evening. People had been waiting nearly an hour, Luke was tired and cranky, there were more bodies than floor space, it was still pouring rain.... such a great evening. Now, I am still accustomed to the old "priority seating" system, where you were told to arrive 10-15 minutes *before* your seating time, which is what we did. So I check in at the window, they pull up our reservation, and they say "okay, you should be seated 10-15 minutes AFTER your reservation time." Excuse me? We ended up waiting for about 20 minutes, but I still was not happy. That was information I feel should have been relayed to me when I made the reservation, so we wouldn't have busted our rears getting there early.

Then dinner itself turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I don't ever recall being disappointed in the food before. I think maybe we usually eat lunch? Either that, or they have seriously changed the kinds of things they offer. For those who don't know, The Crystal Palace is a buffet restaurant. Everything was a little too "hoity toity" for my personal tastes, and almost everything had either chilies of some kind (not everyone likes spicy!!) or cilantro (which I despise). I was not impressed with the choices, generally speaking. I mainly got rotisserie chicken and garlic mashed potatoes, which was very good, but I could have gotten the same thing (half a roasted chicken and, okay, plain mashed potatoes) at the Starlight Cafe for less than 1/4 the price. Admittedly, you don't get to meet Pooh and friends at the Starlight, so I can justify some of the price, but not all of it. Even the desserts were just so-so. DH and Mom seemed to do better with the main buffet choices than I did. And I did find one spectacular item on the buffet: Cream of Potato soup. Oh my heavens, it was beyond divine! I don't even want to know how much butter and cream there was in it, but it was very very WOW. Luke, OTOH, ate virtually nothing, even from the kid's buffet (the mac & cheese was disgusting, BTW). A couple of bites of pizza, chicken, and mashed potatoes, and that was it.

It didn't help that I was being chastised (in the guise of trying to be helpful) by the woman sitting next to us. She was using Luke and me as an example while talking to the guy she was with (Mom and DH were getting food), but she was talking loudly enough for me to clearly hear her, so I put in my two cents. (Hey, if you are going to talk about me, I feel that gives me a right to participate in the conversation!) "See, look, that's all he is eating. Why would you spend that kind of money for a kid to only eat three bites?" Look sweetheart, first off, who are you to judge me and the way I choose to spend my money? Maybe I am filthy rich and the $100-ish that meal cost for the 4 of us is pocket change as far as I am concerned. You obviously don't have children, so you clearly don't realize that you get tired of eating fast food after a while, and it was worth the extra $13 to get to eat somewhere nice for a change. Besides, he normally eats plenty to justify the price. Just a couple of weeks ago for dinner, he ate his entire kids pizza, 1/3 of mine, 1/4 of DH's spaghetti, and 3 breadsticks. (No joke!) He was just tired and cranky, and he'd been hot earlier (which suppresses your appetite), and it was an off day. I did expect him to eat more, but he didn't, and that's okay. And did I mention that it is really none of your business? GGRRRR She was trying to sell me on the virtues of the dining plan (which I am well familiar with, thankyouverymuch), but this was not the way to go about it.

Thankfully, the characters started to come by about this point, so I could (try to) put it out of my mind. Eeyore was really the reason we were there, but we got to see Piglet and Tigger as well. Somehow we missed Pooh. Anyway, Piglet managed to get him the most engaged. He was most excited about Eeyore, but had no idea how to interact. Tigger, however, was amazing. Characters are frequently asked to give autographs these days, and they even take classes to make sure the signatures are somewhat consistent from one visit to the next. Guests are asked to provide nice large fat pens to facilitate. We had brought Luke's mini-Magnadoodle to keep him entertained (I left the fork in the photo for scale; that's a regular dinner fork, in my home pattern even!). Tigger picked up the teeny-tiny stick (it's about 4 inches long, and maybe 5 mm in diameter) on his Magnadoodle and signed it! That is, far and away, one of the most impressive character feats I have ever seen. Anyway, Luke got cranky after about 45 minutes, so DH took him on to the Buzz Lightyear ride while Mom and I ate a little more and paid for dinner. I even managed to leave my wallet on the table and have to go back for it. Are we having fun yet?

By the time we met up with the boys in Tomorrowland, Luke and DH had managed to ride Buzz Lightyear twice. It was raining lightly, and they were having announcements every 15 minutes or so about the Pirate and Princess Party starting at 7, so most guests were clearing out if they didn't have tickets. But not us! Given that there were so few people there (who weren't eating or over near Pirates of the Caribbean for the start of the party), Buzz Lightyear was virtually empty. I think we rode 5 or 6 times in 40 minutes, plus the two they had already done. DH kept saying "maybe we should go since they're about to close." Nope. We paid good money to stay until 7, Luke was finally in a good mood, and we had the ride practically to ourselves. We're staying! Sure enough, at 7 on the dot (just as we were getting off the ride for our final time), they stopped letting in guests without wristbands for the party. But that's fine. The rain was picking up, and it was time to head back and get some good sleep for day 2. We learned on the way out that there were still tickets available, but Luke was starting to crash, so as tempting as those couple of extra hours were, we left. Luke insisted on having his picture taken on the ferry ride back. It was pretty neat, though. We sat on the top deck; don't think I've done that before.

Turned out to be a good thing that we left. It was *pouring* down rain by the time we got back to the hotel. It was raining so hard, in fact, that DH and I thought we were going to have some alone-time together at Downtown Disney to do some shopping, but it just wasn't worth it in such a monsoon. I can only imagine all of the tired and wet little pirates and princesses running around, not to mention sodden parents, all getting crankier and crankier by the minute. It had the potential to be a blast, I have no doubt, but not on a wet and soggy night when we still had a day of parks and a baseball game to go on our trip.

Next time, Disney Hollywood Studios (so hard not to call it MGM) and a return to the Magic Kingdom.

Currently feeling: rainy

Monday, March 17, 2008

Disney 2008: Chapter 2 - Magic Kingdom Morning

Thursday morning dawned bright and early with the child waking at 6 AM (he's better than an alarm clock, I swear). We got up, we made waffles downstairs on the waffle iron, we got all sunscreened up (which Luke did not like at all), and we headed out. One of the things I did not know when I made our reservations for dinner at the Crystal Palace for this night was that not only was Thursday and Extra Magic Hour morning day at the Magic Kingdom (meaning resort guests could get into the park an hour before the rest of the general public), it was also closing early (7 PM) for the Pirate and Princess Party. This meant that the park would be busier than normal, *and* it would close sooner. This did not make me happy, given that dinner was scheduled for 5 PM (and there was no way to reschedule at such a late date; reservations were full), so there would hardly be an hour after eating to do stuff. Given that we probably wouldn't get back there until 4 PM or later due to nap, I felt like we were almost wasting an afternoon, so we needed to cram as much into the morning as possible, despite all the extra people for Extra Magic Hour.

As is our custom, we took the ferry over for our first arrival. The monorail line was *so* long, and I know we got there well before most of the people exiting the tram with us simply by taking the boat. Security was fun, as usual, with three backpacks for the four of us. I did, however, spot one of the coolest topiaries I have seen in a long time. Check this out:

It was *huge*. I intentionally left that little boy in the photo, as well as the post holding up the monorail track, just so you could get a sense of scale. I'd say 8-10 feet. I was pretty impressed! With such inspiration, how could we not head for Pirates of the Caribbean first thing. I knew it was on the left of the park (people naturally go right when they enter a venue like this, so things on the left or in the very back tend to be less busy early on), and I was afraid it would be terribly busy later, so we hit it immediately. I guess there is an advantage to going on this trip 10 days earlier than normal. There were so many fewer people, I was stunned. Most folks weren't out on spring break until at least the next week, more likely the following one. The proof? I cannot tell you the last time we literally walked right on to Pirates. There were no queueing posts in the forecourt, we just kept walking and walking through the internal queue, and we only had to wait for a single boat to launch before we stepped into one. That is unheard of! We might have to go early again next year.

Anyway, I had bought Luke a small "blaster" keychain at the World of Disney on Wednesday, and it helped him make it through the Davy Jones mist this year without panicking. We went down the hill, just to make sure he still loved it (I had big plans for later, if he was still good with that type of thrill), and we got to the first major scene with the fort bombardment. I suddenly realised that someone was talking over the intercom system, but there was so much noise in there with the dialog and the cannon fire that we could not make out what was being said. There has to be something pretty wrong for them to "break" the ambiance of the ride by speaking over the intercom. Then I noticed that there were no boats coming after us. Odd. By the time we got through the scene with the well and into the scene with the, er, auction, they were back on the intercom, telling us to please remain in our seats and that our voyage would continue shortly. Then there was some message, obviously meant for the operators and not the passengers, about having to basically reboot the pumps. As in, the pumps that make the water move that cause the boats to move. The boats don't have motors or ride on tracks. They just float, and the flow of the water causes them to move through the ride. There are some guide rails to keep us on course, but that is about it. It's all about the water flow, and thus, the pumps!

As we went under the bridge and into the scene where the pirates and the ladies are being chased, we saw the boats in front of us stacking up. No one was going anywhere. They do request no flash photography on the ride, because it is distracting and ruins the experience for other guests, and I usually abide by that rule (or is it guideline?). However, after sitting there for 3-4 minutes, with continued requests for us to stay seated and repeated attempts to restart the pumps, I decided (as did several other guests) that things were already ruined, so I started taking pictures! And as we continued to sit, we actually started moving backwards, back into the auction scene, so I took even more pictures (hey, we've already been there, ambiance intact, so photos now won't hurt anything). I had fun tinkering with my camera settings. We were stuck there for 8-10 minutes, I guess, so I had plenty of time to play. As such, you will have to forgive me while I post some gratuitous Pirates of the Caribbean ride photos, which I think are pretty good, even if I do say so myself.

So, with a successful test run on the drop at the beginning of Pirates, we headed on over to my main goal for this trip: Big Thunder Mountain! Last time we were at the doctor's office, Luke was measured at 42", easily clearing the 40" height minimum for this ride. Need proof?

DH wanted to have him re-ride the Barnstormer first (the small coaster he rode last year) to make sure we didn't "scar him for life" if he didn't still like them, but I was confident it wouldn't be an issue, and if it was, I would have only myself to blame. The line was pretty long, about 30 minutes, but I knew it would only get longer, so we entered. For some reason, I seem to be a favorite person to be asked to carry the time tracking card, as was the case this time. (They scan a card and give it to a guest to carry through to the line until you get on the ride, where it is scanned again and the updated wait time is sent to the front information board.) I knew this didn't bode well, though, and I was right. The wait was closer to 45 minutes, which is a long time to wait, especially when you are 3-years-old and it is getting close to lunchtime. He did quite well, though, and as usual, he proved to be our lucky charm by getting us in the front seat without our having to ask. The three of us managed to fit in a single car, and off we went. He absolutely *loved* it, and we even got to wave at DH (who was waiting on the bridge near the exit, coaster-wimp that he is) as we came over the last hill.

It was now well on to lunchtime, so we wandered over to Fantasyland and another of our favorite stops: Pinocchio's Village Haus. We stopped for a group photo on the way. Not the best shot, but the best I could do with no tripod and a bunch of people walking by. It is also the only photo of all four of us that we have taken in the last two trips to Disney. (We must get better about that!) As we neared the restaurant, we could see the carousel in the distance, and Luke pitched a fit! He wanted to go ride it so badly, but he absolutely had to eat, as he was getting unusually unreasonable (even for being 3). We promised a ride after we ate, and that finally got him in the door. And then it happened: Luke ate his first official meal at Disney! Last year, you may recall, he lived on granola bars, marshmallows, and french fries. This year's staple food? Pizza! We ate, cooled off, cleaned up, then hit the carousel. By then, nap time was near, so we headed back to the hotel.

Sorry about all the pictures. We really didn't take all that many this trip! Most remaining posts will not be as photo heavy. Up next, The Crystal Palace and Buzz Lightyear!

Currently feeling: photo-ish

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Disney 2008: Chapter 1 - Downtown Disney

Okay, so, Disney 2008. We pretty much followed the same plan as last year: leave Atlanta after work on Tuesday and drive to parents' house, leave parents' house Wednesday with Nana and drive to Orlando to check in and hit Downtown Disney, hit parks Thursday and Friday, game Saturday and return to parents' house to drop off Nana, leave Sunday to return to Atlanta. But somehow, this is about as far into the plan as I got. I did make reservations to eat at The Crystal Palace (dinner Thurs) and Tony's Town Square (lunch Fri), but that was about it, and to a certain extent, I feel that this trip suffered a bit for it. I just don't feel that things went as smoothly as they might have if I'd planned a little more. We also learned a couple of valuable lessons about meal and nap planning that will be put to good use next year. So, let's get started!

Despite getting in to my parents' late on Tuesday due to very heavy rain the entire trip, Luke decided to get up at 6 AM Wednesday morning. DH was a dear and let Nana and me sleep until 7, which seemed plenty early, yet we didn't actually make it out the door until 10:30 (still a little baffled on that point). Luke, having been up for 5 hours now, was ready to eat lunch, so we didn't even make it to the interstate before pulling over to eat at Steak 'n Shake. After that, it was smooth sailing to Orlando. It was also Bike Week in Daytona, which Luke greatly enjoyed (he loves "motercykickles"). Our favorite check-in guy Carlos (who you may remember from last year (scroll down past backpack photo)) was at the front desk when we arrived, and our rooms were even ready already. We unloaded the car, then headed out to Downtown Disney, where we hit the usual highlights: Rainforest Cafe (the gorilla room this year), Once Upon a Toy (with way too many way awesome Star Wars potato heads), Team Mickey (that had virtually no Braves stuff this year!), and World of Disney (which was done at breakneck 3-year-old speed, so we didn't see much). Nana also took him on the train and the carousel.

We put Luke down to bed, then I suddenly realized that I had forgotten a major reason for our trip to Downtown Disney: tickets! Both Nana and Luke needed park admission tickets, and it hadn't even crossed my mind while we were there. So Nana and I packed up and returned to Downtown while DH checked on his fantasy baseball teams. We got back, stayed up way too late rearranging the backpacks for the parks, then hit the sack. The three of us (DH, Luke, and I) all slept in the same room this year, so instead of the crummy pull-out sofa, DH and I slept in the king bed while Luke slept on an air mattress in the floor. I'm not a fan of sleeping with a nightlight, which Luke requires to sleep, but it was better than the lumpy fold-out mattress.

See, should be somewhat shorter this year! I'm guessing 5 parts, max, perhaps less. At least I think/hope so. Haven't written the rest yet, so I guess we'll see. Tomorrow, stuck on Pirates of the Caribbean, Luke's first "real meal" at Disney, and his first ride on Big Thunder Mountain!

Currently feeling: vacationed