Florida 2011 – Trip Diary – Part 1

Posted in Travel on March 1st, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday January 14 – We left our hometown about 4:40pm after loading the car, getting kids’ school stuff stashed for the week off, the gas tank filled up, and some snacks from the drive-thru for the kids.  I noted the dashboard temp at 20°F.  Around 8pm, we found a Goldstar Chili to stop at in Westchester, a suburb of Cincinnati – we love to stop for Cincy chili and coneys!  We took about an hour there, giving the little ones some time to run off some steam since there weren’t many people there that time of night.  Luckily we asked first and that’s how we learned that the McDonald’s Playland across the street had been removed – otherwise we would have taken 4 kids into the Playplace-shaped McDonald’s and had much disappointment to contend with.  Dinner went well, despite the waitress’ well-meaning attempt to reward our cute kids with balloons – helium balloons.  Really, lady?  4 helium balloons to add to the 6 people and the 6 people’s week’s worth of luggage in the mini-van about to trek 1000 miles?  So we managed to sneak out of the restaurant with only 2 balloons, and one popped right after we got on the expressway – thankfully it wasn’t too distracting to driver Hubby or we would have all been in trouble.  That last balloon made it all the way down to Florida with us, and it bopped around our rental house for the rest of the week until I “forgot” to pack it for the trip home.  After the Goldstar stop, the kids bedded down for the night, and they were all out by 10:30 – not bad, not bad at all!!  I had such a great time talking with Hubby and keeping him company as we drove down the country together that I didn’t want to go to bed, but I made myself try for some shut-eye around 2:30am.  I do really like the schedule we’ve made for these long drives to Florida, but there is just one downside – the most beautiful part of our trip, the winding drives through the breathtaking Tennessee mountains, is always done during the night when we cannot see anything outside but the lights of the towns in the valleys far below.  Hubby (and me) arrive in Florida tired, but the kids are well rested, and this is a way to break up the monotony of a 20+ hour car ride for those kids.

Saturday January 15 – We all woke up around 6:30am when we stopped for gas; I can’t remember where we were.  But the kids were in good moods, and the sunrise was beautiful.  Since the south was just coming out of a cold snap at this time, the air had an odd smell to it – a hard-to-describe tropical-climate-frozen-over kind of smell.  The kids awoke in wonderful moods, and we ate up all the miles we could until we began to get hungry for breakfast.  We decided to stop first for breakfast and then head to the beach since we had made the extra 90 minute jaunt over to the coast to visit while we were in the area.  We chose St. Augustine Florida since it’s coastal, and I had been there as a kid and kind of wanted to see it again.  But when we got off the expressway, there was no place for a family breakfast.  The Shoney’s that was on the roadside attraction sign had turned into a Chinese buffet, and even if we decided to stomach Chinese food for breakfast, they were not open at 8 in the morning.  So we headed east to the coast, and we found St. Augustine to be somewhat of a ghost town.  There were shuttered buildings and for lease signs everywhere; it was sad.  There seemed to be 2 sections to the city, however, and while the one section was full of shuttered attractions, empty storefronts and loiterers, the ‘original’ part of St. Augustine was bustling and beautiful.  Hoards of people were walking around the streets near the quaint shops, and we found our first glimpse of the ocean beyond the Castillo de San Marcos.  We weren’t able to stay long since everyone was starving and St. Augustine does not seem to have any family-type restaurants (mostly seafood and steak here), but we did get to glimpse some of the oldest city in the United States and marvel at the narrow streets as we tried to find our way out.  We got back on I-95 and exited miles south; near Palm Bay, I think – everyone was SO hungry at this point I wasn’t paying much attention to where we were, just that there was food nearby.  The Golden Corral here was excellent and satisfied our hunger pangs quite well.  And I have to  note how incredibly amazing those hungry, tired kid behaved!!!  All they wanted was to get to the beach, and they were SO hungry, but they were SO patient while we looked for food  – unbelievable!!  Next it was time to find a beach, so we drove east and found a nice place where we had been before.  It’s a minimal $2 toll to get over a bridge and to the coast, but well worth it since there is ample parking and shelters with bathrooms and showerheads to get the sand off.

We had a great time at the beach, even if it was cold (I think in the 50s – I’m writing this so long after it’s hard to remember!) and the locals were walking along the coastline wearing hats and gloves while we were wading.  The kids LOVED the beach, but we got cold and very tired since we were on minimal sleep, so we threw everyone into the car; most of the kids were half-dressed.  At this point, all we wanted to do was get to our rental house in Orlando, and we were so excited when we spotted Orlando’s familiar landmarks along the I-4 corridor.  But we had one stop to make – Downtown Disney to check how many Disney World tickets we had left – you can’t do this over the phone anymore.  Downtown Disney was MOBBED and we were a bit discouraged, but then again, we go through this every time we take a trip to Florida- we think it’s crowded down there, but everything ends up ok.  This year was quite crowded comparatively, so we asked a Disney cast member, and they summed  it up in one word, “Brazilians.”  After she said that, looking around, there were a lot of Brazilians, I guess because in January it’s their summer vacation since they are in the southern hemisphere.  But anyway, my husband was walking around Downtown Disney, trying to find our ticket info, and things had been so crazy when we dropped him off, that he got out of the car without his shoes (remember he was on 0 hours of sleep!).  So he’s walking around Downtown Disney, confused, shoeless, and smelling like the ocean – people are staring, some are laughing.  Then he realizes – his toenails are painted!!  He had promised our 6 year old a week before that if she was good about getting up and going to school in the morning for a whole week, she could paint Daddy’s toenails.  We and some random strangers had a good laugh about that.

We left Downtown Disney, and we were SO anxious to get to the house we made a beeline straight for it except for one problem  – we were an hour early for check-in.  So we headed back to the tourist area (Irlo Bronson Highway), and we looked for some timeshare presentations to sign up for.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we  like to do timeshare presentations, but we’ve gotten great at saying no, and Hubby and I used to make little games we’d play (insert funny random word in the conversation, things like that) that would make the 2-3 hours fly by.  Plus they would feed you and pay you for your time, so we recovered some of our vacation expenses that way.  Little did we know that the Orlando vacation scene is changing – timeshare presentations are no longer a dime a dozen;  in fact, we never found one that paid enough to be worth our time.

So we’re trying to kill an hour before we could get to the house, and we make a stop at the gift shop when we realize that most of the kids are not even dressed.  So I open the back of the van, and everything that we had just haphazardly thrown in the back when we left the beach tumbles out – including our bag of collected seashells.  So I’m picking up the seashells from the parking lot, one by one, and since I was half asleep, I didn’t really notice what I was doing until I heard, “Uh, Mom…”  I look in my hand, and I had picked up a couple of someone’s old discarded cigarette butts!!  Having had barely any sleep, I lost it then, and I laughed with the kids until I cried.

We pulled ourselves together and made it back to the house, which was finally ready – YAY!!!  Hubby took the kids in the pool while I unloaded and unpacked – I was happy to do this chore without little ones underfoot, and their behavior on the long drive was so incredibly stellar that they deserved a swim.  In a couple of hours, some of our fellow vacationers arrived (my mom and our friend Jamiahsh), and we headed out for some stuffed Chicago style pizza at Giordano’s.  We have had the question, why go all the way to Florida to get Chicago-style pizza, but it was YUMMY and we had gotten a Groupon for it which saved us money.

After that, Hubby and I went out together while the kids stayed with Grandma and Jamy, but we didn’t do much  – we were still looking (in vain) for timeshare presentations to attend.  We went to  Old Town, which is an area in Orlando set up like an old-fashioned midway.  There are blocks of little shops – and bars, which were overflowing this Saturday night with intoxicated people- and carnival and thrill rides at either end of the strip of shops.  We normally have fun at Old Town, but I don’t think we will be going back on a Saturday night- definitely wasn’t for kids.

(continued in part 2, a more abbreviated version!)

Secrets Of Traveling With Kids

Posted in Kids, Travel on July 4th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , ,

I’m smack dab in the middle (of the beginning) of raising 4 kids of all different (under 10) ages, and also their friends are around a lot, so we are constantly surrounded by young-ins!  Of my many observations and trials and errors in trying to keep them all simultaneously calm and content, I have discovered a few secrets, golden secrets – so considered because of their miraculous success rates, at least in the under 10 set.  Give me a few years (especially when the kids reach their teens), and I may have enough golden kid-contenting secrets to write a book, let’s hope I learn some more anyway…

1.  If you trace the roots of every kid tantrum and meltdown, you will find that most are derived from feelings of hunger, followed closely by fatigue and thirst; the latter two can be interchanged, it depends upon the kid.  But the #1 reason is usually hunger.  Keeping small, energy-boosting (and likable!) snacks on hand at all times can do wonders for the mood of the group.

2.  Never underestimate the power of blankie.  I keep those really thin blankies in my car –  the ones they give you  at the hospital when you’re having a baby.  They fold up so small, it’s really not a big deal for me to keep a bag with 4 of them (1 per kid is important!)  folded up and stashed under the front passenger seat.  When we are returning home on a long drive or even when we’re in the middle of a long day out, a sleepy (and full-stomached, see hint #1) kid can often be comforted and most often put to sleep by a blankie.  Even the thin ones work like a miracle; I’ve seen it work for multiple ages, genders, and personalities.  It’s difficult for me to get used to, but I keep offering my son little stuffed animals to play with.  I had 3 girl babies before him, and they all loved stuffed animals.  My son could care less, unless the stuffed animal still has its tag for him to rip off.  But the blankie secret is effective even with him – he’ll pull it up against his cheek and instantly get sleepy!  If you don’t have enough of the hospital blankies for each kid  (and it’s important they each  have their own), I highly suggest you purchase other thin blankies for the car since they’re inexpensive, especially when you consider how helpful they are.  They come in packs of 4 or 5 for under $10, I think…  A key to helping this secret be effective is to make sure you retain control of the blankies – don’t let the kids keep them in the back of the van or like anything else, the novelty will wear off, rendering the blankie ineffective.  My kids know that the car blankies are just for “blankie emergencies”, and that policy helps to make sure I can keep them somewhat clean and stashed and ready for use.

So just remember, snacks and blankies can usually get you out of most kid-pinches, sometimes even calming kids who pinch, ha.  At the very least, if you find yourself in charge of some crazy kids, plan ahead and do some light packing – these hints will buy you some time to think of a better plan!

Some Things I Should Clear Up…

Posted in Everyday Life on March 30th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Whenever I take a road trip, I find myself wondering about random things.  Since I don’t have access to the internet while I’m on vacation to look up these random things, I make a list to look up when I return home.  Here is some of my look-up list from the trip to New York we just took:

– Are there bears in Pennsylvania?  YES!  I was wondering this as we were driving through their beautiful wooded hills, but I was still surprised to learn that there are black bears (who aren’t always black) in PA.  In fact, bears can be found in 50 of PA’s 67 counties!

– Where did the airplane land in the Hudson River a few months ago?  As I was looking at the Hudson from our hotel room, I was wondering if we were viewing the very spot (or crossing it on the ferry) where the plane landed.  I found that it was just north of where we were.  We probably would have seen it happen from our room; definitely from the boardwalk behind the hotel, and definitely if we had been on the ferry.

– What was that story about the chicken who lived for many years without his head?  I don’t know how this one came up in conversation, but it did, so here are the details as printed in wikipedia.com:   On Monday, September 10, 1945 at 6:45AM PST, farmer Lloyd Olsen of Fruita, Colorado, had his mother-in-law around for supper and was sent out to the yard by his wife to bring back a chicken. Olsen failed to completely decapitate the five-and-a-half month old bird named Mike. The axe missed the jugular vein, leaving one ear and most of the brain stem intact.  On the first night after the decapitation Mike slept with his severed head under his wing.  Despite Olsen’s botched handiwork, Mike was still able to balance on a perch and walk clumsily; he even attempted to preen and crow, although he could do neither. After the bird did not die, a surprised Mr. Olsen decided to continue to care permanently for Mike, feeding him a mixture of milk and water via an eyedropper; he was also fed small grains of corn. Mike occasionally choked on his own mucus, which the Olsen family would clear using a syringe.  When used to his new and unusual center of mass, Mike could easily get himself to the highest perches without falling. His crowing, though, was less impressive and consisted of a gurgling sound made in his throat, leaving him unable to crow at dawn. Mike also spent his time preening and attempting to peck for food with his neck.  Being headless did not keep Mike from putting on weight; at the time of his partial beheading he weighed two and a half pounds, but at the time of his death this had increased to nearly eight pounds.  In March 1947, at a motel in Phoenix on a stopover while traveling back home from tour, Mike started choking in the middle of the night. As the Olsens had inadvertently left their feeding and cleaning syringes at the sideshow the day before, they were unable to save Mike. Lloyd Olsen claimed that he had sold the bird off, resulting in stories of Mike still touring the country as late as 1949.  Post mortem, it was determined that the axe blade had missed the carotid artery and a clot had prevented Mike from bleeding to death. Although most of his head was severed, most of his brain stem and one ear was left on his body. Since basic functions (breathing, heart-rate, etc) as well as most of a chicken’s reflex actions are controlled by the brain stem, Mike was able to remain quite healthy. Other sources, including the Guinness Book of World Records, say that the chicken’s severed esophagus passage could not take in enough air properly to be able to breathe; and therefore choked to death in the motel. So Mike the headless chicken lived for about 18 months without a head.

– Kent State Massacre – We saw lots of signs for Kent Stae on the trip, and we decided there must be a few campuses.  We were wondering where the massacre happened, what year, how many people were killed, and what happened to the murderer.  Kent State happened in Kent, Ohio (a little bit outside of Cleveland and Akron – so that was the same Kent State University we saw signs for).  4 students were killed and 9 wounded, some paralyzed for life.  But what makes this massacre significant is that the students were shot by the Ohio National Guard – not a lone gunman gone crazy.  The 3 adults in the car decided that if Kent State would have happened in more recent times, it would not be nearly as historically significant because sadly, there are many more of these types of massacres nowadays.  However, I don’t think any of us realized that it was the National Guard doing the shooting – which I should have; I remember studying this is Sociology class, but apparently the knowledge didn’t stick…

– Murder in Small Town X – Do you remember this reality show?  It was basically like a reality show of a murder mystery; there were actors, witnesses and victims.  I thought it sounded cool, but I didn’t watch it when it aired even though I wanted to.  I was in the middle of moving out of the state I grew up in for the first time and busy with my first 2-year-old.  The show was cancelled, but what was significant about it was this:  The final episode aired on September 4, 2001 – exactly one week before the infamous terroist attack on the US – 9/11.  And the last contestant standing, the guy who won the jeep and the $250,000 prize, Angel Juarbe, was a firefighter from New York who perished in the attacks one week after the final episode of the show aired.

– What the heck does “poppy” mean?  In a bizarre episode I  forgot to put in my trip diary, my husband pulled up to a full serve gas pump in  New Jersey without realizing it.  The attendant came out and tried to take the nozzle away from my husband, who said, “I already swiped my card.” – he had no  idea what this guy was doing since he didn’t know he was in full serve.  The attendant snapped, “Stop asking so many questions!” and proceeded to pump the gas and kept calling my bewildered (and very tired) husband “poppy” and “boss”.  As we pulled away from the gas station, we noticed we had in fact been in the full serve area, but that still didn’t clear up the mystery of all the alleged questions my husband asked and what the heck poppy means.  I remembered an episode of Cops I had seen where a perp kept calling the cop “poppy”, and the cop was getting extremely irritated.  “Stop calling me Poppy!”, he said, to which the perp replied, “I’m sorry poppy”  and it kept going on and on like that until the cop finally charged the guy with something and hauled him off to jail, probably because they guy really just couldn’t help himself from saying “Poppy”.  So what does it mean?  When I looked it up, all I found was stuff about flowers and something about a nickname for a grandpa (sorry Hon!).  But I tried changing the spelling, because it seemed like the guy was speaking spanish, so I tried to spell it in Spanish, and I came up with Papi.  When I looked that up, I was scared about the results – it was one of those wiki-answers places, so here is a direct quote:  “To me, papi means: Daddy, Baby, My Love….you say it to the boyfriends, husbands, and sons…if you are in a committed relationship. If you are single, then to a man you have an interest in getting to know alot better.”  Giggling, I read this quote to my husband, and his eyes got really wide and he insisted that I do further research on the subject.  I don’t have a lot of time on my hands for this kind of stuff, so I found the fact that different cultures have different meaning for Hispanic terms, and apparently it’s common for Dominicans to call other males “papi”.  But it seemed to be condescending when the attendant was saying it, and I’m not sure I even have the correct spelling of papi.  Anyone want to offer any help on this?  Any spanish-speakers out there?  Mary, you love a good mystery, I hear 😉

Well, anyway, that’s about everything on the list, or all I have time to put into a blog post, anyway.  I hope you learned something, least of all the randomness 3 adults talk about on a very long road trip when the kids are asleep!  Some day, I will probably have internet right there in the car with me to look up these things.  In fact, I will probably be blogging on the road trip – let’s just hope I’m not the one driving!

New York Trip Diary Volume 1

Posted in animals, Travel on March 24th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When my family travels, I like to take notes and make a diary of our activities.  I figure it will be fun to read later when the kids are grown up and will also bring back many memories that might otherwise be forgotten.  Now that I’m keeping a blog, I decided to just keep the trip diaries in my blog; that way I don’t have to write them twice and they’re automatically saved for us in cyberspace.  Last weekend, my husband had to go to New York on business, so we decided to make it a family trip and take the kids along.  Here is a log of our activities:

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

Friday, March 20 – We left the house bright and early, only twenty minutes past our goal of 8 am.  Disney and Christopher had kept us up until 2:30 in the morning the night before, so we were dragging a little, but they slept in so at least we could tie up loose ends without them.  Sammie and Taylor were big helps in the morning!  The kids were very good in the car even though Christopher got a little crabby toward the end of the first leg.
We arrived at the Cleveland Zoo 11ish – not my favorite zoo.  I’m not one to complain about any zoo, but Cleveland had lots of walking to see a small amount of animals.  I think part of the problem was that they were undergoing a lot of construction, so that made for more walking around the construction areas and also to some animals being off exhibit.  They have koalas, but one was sick and the other was sleeping.  I’m glad I got to see it anyway though since seeing koalas is a rare experience at zoos, but now I know why many zoos don’t have them – they sleep 20 hours per day!  Cleveland Zoo also has lots of steep hills, which was a “bear” (pun intended, wink wink) when pushing a double stroller, but luckily for me, that was my husband’s problem.  As we were walking past the zoo’s hospital, an employee told us to come inside because a baboon was about to have a physical.  This is a really cool feature of this zoo – they have glass walls in their examination rooms so that zoo visitors can watch animals’ procedures.  Unfortunately, the baboon was not cooperative, and they couldn’t get it sedated so we didn’t get to see it.  We waited for about an hour, but we really wanted to fit in Akron Zoo in the same day as well, so we decided not to wait any longer.  Here are my girls waiting for the baboon’s physical:

ny-trip-march-20-23-2009-005

Cleveland Zoo also has a cool rainforest exhibit which normally costs extra admission, but our Toledo Zoo membership got us into ALL THREE zoos we visited on this trip for FREE!!!  What a bargain AND an extra special Valentine’s Day gift from my husband that keeps on giving!  The rainforest exhibit had a cool 2-story monkey/squirrel exhibit, and a really nice view of a swimming gharial (a crocodillian with a long slender snout).  But overall, the animal habitats were lacking.  Thank goodness they are building new ones, but I wish they were building one for the giraffes.  There were probably more than 10 giraffes confined to a tiny indoor room – at least it was only their winter quarters, so once it gets warm, they can go back outside and have room to roam.  Hmmm…  maybe when I’m done with this trip diary, I’ll have to  develop a zoo rating system – that would be fun.  Then I’d have an excuse to visit even more zoos, and re-visit some of the old ones!

ny-trip-march-20-23-2009-001Here are the kids in front of the lion exhibit at Cleveland – then it was on to the Akron Zoo.

“Just Akron, cold beer, and poor poor thing for 2 weeks?”  you ask?  Well, not for two weeks, we were only there for about 2 hours, but I wanted to throw in that line from the stage play Harvey (and later, the movie starring James Stewart) that was running through my head for the two hours.  Stay tuned for Akron!

New Jersey Is Lovely This Time Of Year, I Hear

Posted in Travel on March 20th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Right now, I’m in the car with my husband, our 4 kids, and our volunteer “Manny” (a man who’s a nanny – thanks Jamiahsh!); we’re on the way to the New Jersey / New York City area!  How did I manage to make a blog post, you ask?  Well, I’ve actually typed this out days ahead of time and then used the brilliant tangents.org feature “schedule a post”, choosing the exact date and time for which my post will automatically publish itself!  I love technology AND tangents.org!

So I think we’re probably between zoos right now; the itinerary had us stopping at both the Cleveland and Akron Zoos in Ohio on the way to New Jersey.  Two zoos only 20 minutes apart?  How could I resist?  And why can’t my utopia of a hometown be located within a 20-minute vicinity of two zoos?!?

I hope we made it to both zoos without being too pressed for time, and I also hope the kids are being good on the long car ride.  I hope our business meeting goes well tomorrow and that we have a lot of fun before making it home safely.  Until I return…

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?

Fall Back

Posted in Travel on October 26th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s been over a week since we’ve been in NW Ohio, and really, not much has changed.  There are many less leaves on the trees than there were when we left for Disney World last Friday, but other than that…  We haven’t yet had a chance to check in with friends, so hopefully all is well everywhere.  I have to admit that I was a bit scarred from our last vacation – we returned to the horrible news that my beloved kitty had passed away.  So this time, I was nervous about coming home.  I told our pet-sitter that if anyone dies this time to not tell us while we were in Florida, thinking, what good would that do…  but that decision ended up backfiring majorly because then the whole time I was worried that something had happened and I didn’t know about it becuase I had left the instructions not to call us…  But nothing catastrophic occurred, at least not to us or any of our pets, and we had a wonderful time.  Now more than ever I know what people mean when they say that they need a vacation from their vacation.  After taking 4 little kids on a 1,000+ mile road trip each way and returning with the trashed car and the dirty laundry and housekeeping catch-up for a family of 6, I could really use a vacaion!

Oh well…  we had a great time and I wouldn’t trade our experiences for the world – or all the laundry in the world.  More to come about the trip after I unpack some and get used to the fact that I did not gain an extra hour this weekend like Jill my GPS friend told me I had – guess she (along with my alarm clock – glad I noticed that before tomorrow morning) is pre-programmed for the “fall back” switch for daylight savings time.  The only problem is that Jill and my alarm clock were programmed before the daylight savings hours were adjusted thanks to President Bush.  So they are now an hour behind…  but no matter, they can stay that way for another week or two, whenever we change the clocks…  and then, I will get my extra hour of sleep – always fun!