July 2011 (part 1)

Posted in family fun, Travel on July 30th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The July 2011 page on my calendar has been filled since spring, so I knew we had a busy month ahead.  Organizing everything I had jammed into those little squares on the calender was going to be challenging enough, but then we were even able to add a few family mini-vacations to the mix!  It’s been a great summer so far despite the challenges of sometimes trying to be in 2 places at once, and I wanted to chronicle everything to enhance the wonderful memories we made as a family this summer – but be prepared; this will be quite the manifest when I’m finished!

June 30 and July 1 – We began the month with a last-minute trip to an indoor water park that’s an hour away.  After a sudden burst of cabin fever, my husband found a super internet deal that afforded us some much-loved family time.  The kids loved the indoor water park, and Christopher was old enough this time to go on some water slides which he found to be a blast!

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Best of all, the constant lower back pain that had been making me short of patience, irritable and tired all the time seemed to be remedied by my getting to sit in water for 2 days.  I should note for future reference also how interesting it was to pack different people for 3 different trips at the same time.  Simultaneously, I was packing 6 people for an overnight stay (with a separate bag for changing into street clothes from bathing suits, I might add), 1 little girl for a 4 day stay at camp, and also for a 3 day trip for 6 people.  It felt hectic at the time, but not unmanageable – due to the fact that my wonderful family did much of the work for and with me.  And you know what?  I don’t think we forgot anything!!

July 2, 3 – After the water park, we got a day of rest (and unpacking, re-packing, laundry) before we set out Sunday for the 4-hour drive to Nashville Indiana – with one small glitch:  Hubby had food poisoning.  He had to miss church to rejuvenate, and then we were off – well, after packing up the car and some other in-town odds n ends.

July 3-6 – We spent the 4th of July in Nashville – a yearly trip Hubby and I take with our 4 kids, my parents, my uncle, and my sister, her husband and their 2 kids – there were 13 of us staying in a large house in the middle of the Brown County woods.  It was a beautiful place, and we’re torn on where to choose to have next year’s gathering.  Last year, we had a beautiful house where each family had their own bedroom and bathroom.  The few downsides to this house (called The Oaks) was the large steep hill that led down to the pond and fire pit – it proved to be dangerous last year when someone took a nasty spill (but was uninjured), so we didn’t want to gamble with it this year when we have an adult who is practically incapacitated (me being 5.5 mos. pregnant).  Also, the kids have to be watched constantly down by that pond, so it was a nice break for the adults this year to not have to worry about who was going to take them down there.  Also, there wasn’t really any yard for the kids to play in at The Oaks.  There was a swingset, but really only the two 3-year-old boys were of the age to enjoy a swing set this year, and that leaves 4 other kids with no yard to run around in.  Both houses had pool tables inside and hot tubs outside (which became little swimming pools for the kids since we didn’t want to turn on the heat in 90° weather), and The Oaks had tons of dvds,  board games, and a foosball table, but then again, this year we brought our own dvds and games and the kids had TONS to do and were never bored.  Another plus to this year’s cabin vs. The Oaks: the large dining room table that fit almost everyone at the same time so we could enjoy meals together.  The Oaks had only a small breakfast nook that seated 4 people or about 6 kids, so the adults had to eat elsewhere.  Given these pros and cons of each cabin, it’s going to be a tough decision next year on where to stay!!
The kids’ favorite thing to do this year was to go down to the creek that ran around the property (this cabin was called “Ginley’s Gulch” for future reference).  There they would walk the creek, hunting for crawdads, geodes, and minnows, and they found quite a few of all of the above.  As I said, this property had a larger yard, and also 85 acres of forest, and in the future I would like to explore the gorgeous property more since I wasn’t quite feeling up to that this year.  I did enjoy walking down the cleared path into the forest though – there were many beautifiul butterflies, cool looking insects, and birds to see and hear.  And oh yeah!  I forgot to mention another huge plus of Ginley’s Gulch – the screened-in porch!  It had a ceiling fan, so it was a wonderful, mosquito-free place to spend our Brown County evenings together.  A great trip!!

July 6 – We arose at the crack of dawn to pack up the car and get the kids roused for the 4+ hour drive to Michigan to drop daughter #2 at camp.  We were all exhausted, and the kids slept much of the way.  We did stop in Fort Wayne for something to eat, and we finally tried a little cafe where we had always wanted to try their eggs benedict since reading an ad for them years ago.  The eggs benedict was a bust – sauce from a packet, don’t you know, but they did have one of my seasonal favorites that’s very hard to find in the northern part of the country where I live: fried green tomatoes.  And they were yummy!  We dropped Sammie off at camp just a little late, and we were excited for her after seeing what a great place Camp Selah is (Camp Selah is a Christian camp in Reading Michigan, and both of our kids who went had a SUPER time!)

July 7-9 – These next few days were a bit quiet without the whole brood together, and we fit in another family min-vacation: since Sammie had to be picked up in the morning in Michigan, we took the other 3 kids to the drive-in in Coldwater Michigan and spent the night there – lots of fun!  Saturday the 9th we picked up Sammie, and she said she had a good week during her first ever time at camp.

July 11 was the 3rd birthday of a very special little guy, and we took him out to dinner at the local Mexican restaurant where they sang to him, put a sombrero on him, and dabbed his nose with dessert.  I of course forgot my camera 🙁  but he liked it all the same.  It reminded me of last year when the staff at Bob Evans sang to him, and he dove into my shirt to hide – the year of experience helped him to enjoy the attention more this year.  And in the morning of little dude’s birthday, I had to drive Taylor to camp in one of the nastiest storms of the year.  We made it there without a problem, but the ride home was dicey with driving rain and wind.  I was glad I didn’t have any kids with me which would have made me nervous, and as you can tell I made it just fine – even if I did arrive sopping wet and very late to Bible study.  In the newspaper the next day, I saw a picture of a power line that fell into the road which turned out to be the same road I had been driving down during that storm.  Just goes to show you what kinds of things to look out for when driving during inclement weather in the middle of desolate farm country, and I feel blessed to have made it safely.

July 11-14 – So with our eldest away at camp, the week flew by…  even though we missed her (I especially missed having someone old enough to have a normal conversation with me during the day).  We had 3 days of doctor appointments (me and our youngest-for-now had his 3-year-checkup) and meetings, and then… freedom!

July 15 – Hubby and I met my mom in South Bend, and she took “the littles” (our family name for the younger kids in our family; in this case it meant our 3-year-old, 4-year-old, and 7-year-olds) to Grandma’s for a vacation – which left Hubby and I kidless for a whole day!  So Hubby took me to the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, and the amount of walking and the weather was perfect for me even while pregnant since it was just the two of us.  What a great idea as I was just starting to get zoo withdrawl!  After the zoo, we decided to take the scenic route home from South Bend and fell upon a perfect date purely by accident:  in Middlebury Indiana, there is an excellent Amish-style restaurant called Das Dutchman Essenhaus.  We were driving by on a day when they had a buffet, so we could sample many varieties of their very delicious food.  Even better, there were some Amish men offering carriage rides in the parking lot, so we took one!  It was so romantic, the grounds of the mini-resort were beautiful, the weather was perfect, and hearing the history of the grounds as told my our Amish guide was wonderful – best date day ever!!

(below is a picture of a horse and buggy like the one we drove in (ours was more of a carriage than a buggy).  I had to take the picture on the way home since I had forgotten my camera and couldn’t take any pictures while on the buggy ride!)

July 16 – This was the day we picked up our oldest from camp, and we got to hear every detail about her awesome week while driving from Michigan to Fort Wayne to see…  the new Harry Potter movie ON IMAX IN 3D!!  Yes, it was as cool as it sounds, and it was fun to take Taylor out for a fun day with only parents and no younger siblings – dinner was at Golden Corral, one of her favorite places since she loves steak.  I’m thankful that the awful nausea I felt earlier in the day did not persist through the movie, and the cause of it that day still perplexes me…  such is a mystery of pregnancy, I guess.

July 17-18 – The 3 of us tackled the huge project of cleaning out our spare room – what a mess!  I wish we had taken some “before” pictures, but the most important thing is that it got done, even if I felt like I was going to fall over in exhaustion by the end of it.  I’m so proud of Hubby for all the hard work he did for this project, and especially that it was his idea to tackle it earlier than we had scheduled – we began Saturday night after Fort Wayne rather than Sunday after church as we had planned.  But it looks GREAT, and as I’m writing this at the end of July, our family has gotten so much use out of it already.  We made it into a craft / hobby / school room, and it has a computer, Taylor’s new sewing machine (a present from Grandma), all kinds of paper, crayons, glue, etc, and all the many, many arts and crafts kits and supplies we had been saving (and losing) for the past 5 years.

(July manifest to be continued – need to give your eyes a break!  But first, here is a pic of a creative, cute fire hydrant in downtown South Bend Indiana I snapped while sitting at a stoplight – look for it near the silver van’s rear bumper)


New York Trip Diary Volume 5

Posted in Travel on March 28th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NEW YORK TRIP – MARCH 20-23, 2009 – TAYLOR: 9 yrs, SAMMIE: 4 yrs, DISNEY: 2½ yrs, CHRISTOPHER: 8 mos

(continued from previous posts)

Monday, March 23 – We left the hotel for the Pittsburgh Zoo and promptly got lost.  Many cities are situated on just one river, but some bank alongside 2 or 3 rivers, and that’s where Pittsburgh lost me and we, in turn, got lost.  Multiple rivers and all those hills – I have lots of trouble navigating my way through hills and mountains for some reason – probably because if you miss a turn, you can’t just go a block and correct yourself because there’s hills in the way.  And Pittsburgh was also not lacking in what had become our nemesis (besides the ever-elusive Waterways bus) on this trip – construction zones.  And we already talked about how Jill the GPS doesn’t do detours.  Lost as we were, we again got lucky and didn’t wind up in any bad neighborhoods, but we did have to go without breakfast and almost without lunch.  We stopped at a random police station for directions, and they were very nice (though they have some of the funkiest accents I’ve ever heard there in Pittsburgh – what IS that?), but the directions were very complicated, probably because of the rivers and hills to drive around, and we got lost again.  Finally we found the zoo, and we picked up lunch at a little food stand on the river across from the zoo, and we refrained from making good on our threats to throw Jill the GPS in the river.  Except now we were down to only getting to spend 2 hours at the zoo before they closed.

The Pittsburgh Zoo is nestled within some steep hills – like all the zoos we visited on this trip – and you had to take an elevator to get up the main hill and into the zoo.  Once inside, we were very impressed.  I’m having trouble deciding which zoo I like better between Pittsburgh and Akron – Cleveland is not even on the same level as the other two.  Pittsburgh has a thriving elephant herd – 2 calves born just weeks apart last July!  Baby elephants are somewhat rare and difficult to come by in zoos – if a zoo can actually get elephants to breed (and I know the baby in Toledo was conceived via artificial insemination, so breeding might be somewhat difficult), they still have to  wait through an extremely long gestation period (almost 2 years!) before seeing if they have a healthy calf.  So the fact that Pittsburgh has 2 elephant calves that were born in the same month last year (also the same month as our baby boy!) is nothing short of amazing.

The Pittsburgh Zoo has an awesome aquarium with 3 types of penguin and a huge seahorse tank – next to manatees, seahorses are my favorite animal, and I have never before seen such a nice habitat for them or such huge seahorses!  Also in the aquarium is an area where you can pet stingrays, and there’s even a tunnel that runs underneath their pool that kids can crawl through and come up in the middle of the pool.  Here is a picture of my daughter after she crawled through the tunnel:

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And speaking of tunnels, Pittsburgh Zoo has a tunnel that goes under their polar bear pool!  How cool is that?  We didn’t actually see it because we were there near closing time, and the bears were pacing by the door to go in for the night – we knew they wouldn’t be swimming any more that day, so we skipped the tunnel.  But I must go back some day to see that, and also to spend more time in this awesome zoo – ok, I guess I just decided that I like Pittsburgh just a little bit more than Akron, but it was a tough call!  Too bad Pittsburgh is almost 5 hours away, or I’d return in a heartbeat!  And I forgot to mention how many fun things they have to kids to do, even beyond seeing the animals.  They had a totally awesome looking playground, but we didn’t go on that one because we weren’t sure we’d have enough time.  When we got to the end of the zoo, there was another playground, so we let them play on that until closing time.  Our 2-year-old got “stuck” at the top of the playground – she was too scared to go down the slide and refused to come back out through the tunnels.  I was worried that we’d get locked in the zoo like a couple of college kids I read about in Jack Hanna’s hilarious book, My Wild Life – they got locked in the dark reptile house, where they could hear things splashing around all night!  After we got my daughter to come down off the playground (thanks to her big sister who lured her away), the sea lions were putting on a little show right in the front of the underwater viewing window – which reminds me, we had also gotten to see an impromptu sea lion show earlier in the day – the zookeepers were training them and rewarding them with fish, it was really  cool to watch!

On the way home, we stopped in Elyria, Ohio for dinner at a Golden Corral (always delicious) where my husband was a victim of racial discrimination by the steak griller, and we found what must be the last non-Super Walmart left in the world.  Trying to save room in the car, we had neglected to pack enough diapers for our two children who still wear them, and we had to break into the new packs of diapers right there in the Walmart to change a double poopie from the baby and his big sister!  It was interesting to be in a Walmart without groceries where the employees were actually preparing to close the store for the night – almost like time travel, but if I  traveled in time, the last place I’d go is Walmart!

So anyway, now we had only 2 hours left of the drive home, and it passed uneventfully – the kids slept.  We got home sweet home at about midnight, and the kids were really excited to see their pets and their room – they had trouble getting back to sleep.  The pets were happy to see us, and my thanks goes to our great friend Carol who kept the pets healthy and happy during our absence.  I was really surprised to see how big the rats got in just a few days though, Carol, what did you feed them?!?  🙂

So, I had an amazing adventure with wonderful people.  And this is the end of my diary.  Well, not really, I will have one more entry to go back to the World Trade Center site visit, but I’m waiting for the right time to blog about that – it was a very moving experience.  So thanks for reading, and I hope you had fun and maybe even learned a little something about places you may or may not want to visit some day!

Walmart Saves The Day

Posted in Everyday Life on November 30th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What?!? Believe it or not, the title of my post does not have the slightest hint of sarcasm!  Walmart really DID save the day for us yesterday!  It almost makes me sorry for my many rants against Walmart and their shady practices designed to put small companies out of business…  almost sorry, but not quite there.

It all started when we decided to take the kids over to Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is about an hour away.  We pulled into a stall at the Sonic drive-thru for a light lunch and some slushies (Sonic has awesome slushies and drinks), when we realized we had forgotten my husband’s wallet, which left us without money or credit cards.  Luckily, we had picked up the mail before we left the house and brought it in the car with us.  And luckily², we had gotten a commission check in the mail.  So we braved the ‘big city’ Walmart customer service line on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to see if they would take pity on us and cash the check even without my husband’s ID.  We were gifted with even more luck when they accepted my driver’s license to cash my husband’s check, and we were able to eat lunch.  Except now it had gotten really late and we were all really hungry, so we decided to skip Sonic and go to the Golden Corral that was in the Walmart outlot instead.  If you braved my posts about our vacation diary, then you know how much we like Golden Corral.  And I’d say that the one in Fort Wayne is of the best quality out of any of the others we’ve been to.  After lunch, we took the kids to a McDonald’s Playland, but it had only one little tunnel and one small slide; prompting our 4-year-old to proclaim, “Dad, this is boring!”  But our 2-year-old loved it, and soon there were more kids to play with and everybody had lots of fun – including mom and dad since there was also a foosball table.  When we left the McDonald’s, we noticed there was a Burger King across the street (when isn’t there?), and that Burger King had a 3-story play area!  Oh, well, we had fun where we went and we can remember the BK for next time.  We quenched our thirst with drinks from Sonic, and there was a cool looking car wash next door, so we treated the kids to a car wash also -they love watching the soap, brushes, and water cascading off the car.  The second we pulled out of the wash –ding ding – our low fuel bell rang – uhoh.  My husband and I just looked at each other because it wasn’t like we had unlimited money with us.  In fact, we had spent the last of the check money at the car wash.  Thank goodness gas prices are decent these days because with the change we were able to scrape together from my wallet and the car, we had enough to get us gas to get home…  whew!  Perhaps it can even be considered a blessing in disguise.  When you compare the variety of shopping Fort Wayne offers to our hometown choice of Super Walmart and…  well, just the Super Walmart, unleashing us in a larger city with all those shopping varieties could have been disasterous to our bank account!

And by the way, the Walmart customer service line wasn’t too bad, all things considered.  Most of the line consisted of a family who had 6 kids and one on the way -wow.  And I thought I had a lot of kids!

Vacation Diary – Chapter Five

Posted in Travel on November 10th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 23, 2008 – Started off the day at Golden Corral for breakfast again, and then we stopped at a Wi-Fi place so my husband could download the Chicago Bears game from the previous Sunday because the internet was too slow in our condo to do anything.  That’s a good thing though, I wasn’t able to check email all week and it was nice to take a break from bad news on cnn.com and the real world.  We were lucky enough that it didn’t rain during our trip to Florida until this day when we were already done with the parks. It really didn’t rain much, just a little drizzle, and even though the day was overcast, we spent much of it at the two pools in our condo complex, followed by a nap while my husband juggled the kids, the Bears game, and his own nap.  We then went to our favorite flea market place and let the girls spend their money that Grandma had given them.  NOTE FOR NEXT YEAR – the souvenir shopping was kind of a mistake. Sammie (4 year old) wanted to be impulsive with her money, and we got tired of telling her to wait to spend it. Finally she was allowed to buy something, and then she saw other things she wanted after she was out of money. She also spent the rest of the trip whining and pitching fits about wanting the same souvenirs that her older sister Taylor had picked out. Disney’s (2 year old) idea of “shopping” was running around and picking up things she wanted and playing with them, so overall, I would not recommend the souvenir shopping for kids this age; if we go back within a year or two, we’re going to skip this aspect of the trip.  If they earn spending money for next time, maybe we’ll pick out something for them with it!

Dinner that night was interesting.  My husband has wanted to take me to a Japanese restaurant for awhile, so we decided to try a place called Kabuki.  I was always under the impression that Japanese food would be like Chinese food, but I was wrong.  We sat at a “cooking table”, which is where the chef comes and does little tricks and stunts with the food and cooking utensils while he cooks right in front of you.  At first, I was a little nervous about this because we were seated with a couple from a country called Luxembourg, and having strangers at our table was a little nerve-wracking because my kids can be wild at the dinner table at times.  Everything was fine; the kids were really entertained by the chef’s show.  Better yet, they were mindlessly eating their food without thinking to complain about it or ask for something else.  And the couple from Luxembourg took pictures and later emailed them to me – check it out:

Overall, I liked the Japanese food experience – taste and show –  and I would recommend it to others if it’s something you’ve never tried before.  As you can see, our chef was not Japanese – the guy from Luxembourg predicted that and recommended we retry the experience with a Japanese chef.

 

Vacation Diary – Chapter Four

Posted in Travel on November 3rd, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 22 – Breakfast at Golden Corral – best omlette I’ve had in a long time.  Then it was off to the Magic Kingdom where our group got separated.  It was ironic because they make an announcement on the monorail on the way over to the Magic Kingdom about picking a meeting place in case your party gets separated, and during that announcement, I had a feeling we should probably do that.  We ended up finding everyone but not at the meeting place we had desigated.  The Monsters Inc. show is funny as always, and my husband was chosen again to participate, this time playing “Sully”.  We skipped Space Mountain this time around because the line was long and by the time we remembered to get fast passes, we were ready to leave Tomorrowland.  I also skipped one of my favorites, Peter Pan’s Flight, but it was well worth it to get my husband a wheelchair so he could get off his extremely painful infected toe.  Besides, the girls still got to ride it with our friend, Jamiahsh.  Splash Mountain was fun, although the recent updates the ride incurred saw the song on it changed from the extremely catchy “Zippidy Doo-Dah” to something else I don’t even remember.  That’s 0/2 for me liking the rides they’ve updated this trip, if you’re keeping track.

And this is the second Florida trip where both my husband and I saw a strange and unidentified creature.  We’re not crazy, but both times we both saw the same things.  This time, it was a black figure running across the road which was actually a bridge over another road.  When it got to the edge of the bridge, the black shape just kept going – which means it was airborne.  I didn’t see it “running” really; to me it was a black oval traveling across the road – I couldn’t make out any legs.  My husband, who has better eyesight than I, saw something running and then flying.  Either way, none of this describes any animal I’m familiar with, especially one who is native to the United States.  And since I’m on the subject, I will describe our first unidentified creature encounter.  It was a few years ago on our way down to Florida, somewhere in the wilderness of Georgia in the middle of the night.  I saw something sitting by the side of the road, and then it opened and flapped a LARGE pair of wings and flew a short distance upwards onto a low branch in a tree.  It’s wingspan was huge – a diameter of a full grown man at least, 6 feet or more.  This sighting was witnessed by my husband also, and we call it “Batman”.  I’ve looked up various birds and the largest I’ve found is a condor, but this creature seemed even larger and its body was bigger and shaped less like a bird’s body.  Mysteries as yet unsolved…

Well, anyway, talking about the strange creature on Wednesday night disoriented us, and after we got out of Disney World’s huge tangle of roads, we went to the Boston Lobster Feast where at least one kid stayed passed out.  Because we had 3 of the 4 kids asleep by the time we got back to the condo, Chris and I decided to take our night out that had been scheduled (and cancelled due to kid neediness) for the previous two nights.  We went over to the Fun Spot, a newer amusement park next to Old Town.  We went on an extreme ride – check this out:

 

It actually was much more mild than it looks – and no, that’s not us in the picture.  The ride was kind of lame, really…  Conversely, two of the 4 go-cart tracks at Fun Spot are wicked, simply put.  And I’m not exaggerating when I say that someone might be killed on those tracks.  Unfortunately, I had to witness a little girl speed out of control and hit the wall at a high rate of speed.  I think she was alright; she was conscious at least, but she was very scared, and it was terrifying to witness.  The one track starts by winding up a ramp, and then when you’re at the top, the track drops off so suddenly that I’m sure a cart could get some air if one was on a suicide mission and wanted to try it.  So your cart picks up speed down this steep hill, and before the track even levels out, there’s a hairpin turn – looks like you’re driving in a bowl – followed by another downward slope.  I can’t believe they let kids drive the course, and I shudder to think what careless, invincible (so they think) teenage boys would do with a go-cart on that track – especially a whole pack of them driving it together.  But for us adults, it was lots of fun, although I prefer something much more mild in a go-cart – the things have no padding!  Another course they had there was very small but it had a lot of sharp turns, and it reminded me of a live version of Mario Kart – without the fake gift boxes and shell weapons, of course 😉

Here is a picture of crazy go-cart course – it doesn’t even show the “32 degree banked bowl”, just the “shear drop”:

 

Vacation Diary – Chapter One

Posted in Travel on October 28th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Because Disney World and the Orlando area in Florida are our favorite places to vacation, we make it a point to go as often as we possibly can.  The last few trips we’ve made, I’ve been careful to keep a trip diary – a notebook log of things we do as well as hints that might help us make the next journey.  Each trip to FL sees me taking a notebook for our trip diary, and I write about various things in it, depending how much downtime I have to write while the kids are sleeping.  Here is an excerpt from the diary for this trip:

FRIDAY OCT 17, 2008 – Left town about 5:30pm.  Unfortunately, our local Burger King we decided to get for dinner took about 30 minutes!  Kids were rambunctious, so we stopped at a McDonald’s Playland in downstate Ohio, wondering how we were ever going to make it the remaining 1,000 miles and back again (at least I was!).  The good news is, the Playland seemed to tire out the kids and they fell asleep.  They woke around midnight, but a trip into the gas station seemed to comfort Disney (almost 2 year old) and the kids slept until about 8 am Sat morning.
SAT OCT 18, 2008 – We stopped at another McD’s Playland to blow off some steam, but it was raining, so their outdoor playplace was closed.  The kids handled it well.  This was north of coastal Brunswick, GA, so we made pretty good time the night before – thanks to sleepless driver Chris!  Since the weather was nice, when we saw a sign around Jacksonville, FL that the beach was only 4 miles away, we decided to stop.  We had a great time, and the kids had lots of fun wading in the ocean and collecting seashells.  After that, it was on to Orlando, and we stopped and picked up the key for our condo rental when we got there.  We then made it to the condo – which was over 10 miles away, much to our surprise – where our faithful driver promptly crashed leaving me to facilitate the activities of 4 well-rested kids.  But no problem, I was glad to do it.  After all, I had been afforded a nice nap in the car on the way down, a luxury my husband didn’t get.  Of course, I’m a person who does best with 8-10 hours of sleep, not that I ever get close to that, but still…  So I’m doing my best to summon all the patience I have so I can watch the kids who would not let me nap, and I ended up taking the younger two to Walgreens with me to get some supplies.  The place we stayed in was very nice, but it didn’t come with anything – no soap, shampoo, paper towels, beverages…  for a family of 6 staying for a week, these were necessities I would need at the local Walgreens.  I killed some time there, got lost on the way back, and by the time I had unloaded kids and groceries, my husband was rested and ready for some fun.  We went to Golden Corral for dinner…  delicious.  Reminder for those of you who live in urban areas – we’re not used to a variety when it comes to eating out.  So, when we eat out, even at major chain restaurants, we appreciate them in a way we never did when they were available constantly. 

SUN OCT 19 – slept in, had lunch at Golden Corral.  Read my post about the previous night’s activities if you don’t understand why we had two meals in a row with Golden Corral.  I would say the lunch is even better then the dinner.  So then we went to Old Town, which is a row of shops fashioned like an old fashioned Main Street – there’s even a general store where they sell little glass bottles of Pepsi for 50¢.  When we first started going to Old Town 10 years ago, those little bottles were a quarter, but I’m not complaining – there’s something about the glass bottle that makes that Pepsi taste extra good.  Maybe it’s the thirst quenching reflief it provides after walking around in the Florida heat, or maybe it’s the always much needed caffeine boost – whatever the reason, that little bottle always hits the spot.  The Main St. part of Old Town is about 4-5 blocks long, and at each end, there are carnival rides.  The roller coaster is jerky but fun, and I went on the swinging boat ride which was scarier than it looked!  My fearless daughter, who always wants to try the big rides but isn’t tall enough yet, was shaken enough on the swinging boat ride that she cried.  We sat on the end, which I knew would be more thrilling than the middle, but I didn’t realize how much more mild the middle would be until I rode there with our friend Jamiahsh.  We had lots of fun at Old Town and kinda lost track of time.  We wouldn’t have been late for the dinner show Arabian Nights if we hadn’t left the tickets back at the condo…  oops.  We had to walk around in the dark and missed the first few minutes of the show.  At least they let my husband in, who let us out at the door and had to park the car.  The worker in the parking lot told him to give all the tickets to me, but when my husband tried to get in, they gave him a hard time without a ticket!  Thank goodness he was able to get in and also find us in the dark.  Arabian Nights is a great show.  Think Medieval Times (if you’ve been there) without the chivalrous games.  Well, there is a chariot race, but there are more acrobatics and horse dancing – the horses are gorgeous.  My husband calls it Medieval Times for girls, and all us girls in the family love it.  My husband was able to get a good deal on tickets online, so the show cost less than a regular dinner!  And their food is really good.  It’s served with all-you-can-drink pop, which backfired a little bit because in the dark with the show going on, it was difficult to notice that our 2-year-old Disney was drinking A LOT of pop.  So next thing I know, she’s walking around, and she starts going up the stairs and tells me she’ll be right back.  I said, no, Disney let’s stay in our seats, and then she YELLED at me – “I’LL BE RIGHT BACK!”.  It wasn’t a really angry outburst, but if you know sweet little Disney, it was so out of character for her that it was hilarious.  She was all hepped up on sugar and pop.  So there’s our first 2 days in Florida.  We started Monday off with a time share presentation – ugh – so I’ll take that as my cue to stop posting for now.  This post is long enough, wouldn’t you say?