Wednesday, February 28, 2007

One More Dad Story

I'm including this one at my mom's request. It's worth noting that my mom, by her choice, survived her first school vacation week without my dad at home alone last week. For her Christmas, Winter and Spring Breaks, we have always made it a point to send my mom somewhere, as she and my dad, both teachers, would always scoot off on some vacation adventure. We were actually around for her first weekend of vacation for my sister-in-law's surprise birthday party (I still am waiting for pictures from my brother so I can post about that!) and we tried to get her to come home with us. She chose to stay home, and she survived. She's a brave, strong and courageous woman - really!

Anyway, my dad, who had not one romantic bone in his body (and sometimes I think I married his twin!). One evening my parents were playing the game Scattergories with some friends. Scattergories is the game where you have to list words that start with a certain letter of the alphabet in different categories. That evening, the letter was "G" and my dad had write down something romantic you would say to your significant other. My poor mom, because we all still laugh hysterically when we recall how confidently my father announced that he would romantically call my mother by the word, "Golly"! I mean, by golly, he just didn't get it!! Just another Rudyism!

Delicious Dessert

I am not really one to share recipes, mostly because I hardly ever use them! I'm not a big cook because I can't stand all the work and the clean-up. Plus, how many ways can you cook chicken without cheese? That's all my family eats and it's a little redundant!

While in California, my aunt served Angel Food Cake with ice cream. It was delicious!! She also told me that she often buys an angel food cake, cuts it into layers and puts softened mint chocolate chip ice cream in the layers, then frosts the cake with cool whip. Sounded easy, so I gave it a try last night.

I stopped by the grocery store, bought the three ingredients for $10, brought them home and got to work. I also had to clean out my freezer to make room! I must say, this was the easiest and most delicious dessert I've had in a long time!! Everyone loved it. I think it's the perfect dessert to make when you are also planning to serve a large dinner as so little work is needed. Our dessert guests had two pieces!

I Confer

I completely agree with this one. Apparently, before we got married, T told all his female friends that his wife would be the proud owner of a Volvo... I'm still waiting!! But now, I want this:
You Should Drive a Jaguar XK 4.2

You don't care how you get there as long as you get there with class.
And having a little power doesn't hurt either!

No Vacation at Shengfork

So today is T's first day of "vacation," or the usage of his personal days that he can't cash out. We had dreamed of a little getaway, until we saw the prices. Just not going to happen the same month you go to Disney World! Instead, we have a short getaway planned for a night and the girls are supposed to go to T's parent's house. Today we were going to maybe go out for breakfast, I had a few things to get done, T has a blog assignment so he is watching a couple Willow Creek speakers today, then I have to tutor.... a nice day planned. Then morning came...

Em has the stomach flu AGAIN! About the only good thing I can say about this is that she waited until morning, so no middle of the night illness. Otherwise, it's totally thrown a wrench into the plans. Not to mention, poor girl, today she has Daisies, and yes, I'm the leader and we were planning her investiture for today. What a total mess. Now we will miss that. Will it ever end?

Illness is just not something I deal with very well. I'm thankful we didn't decide to fly somewhere tomorrow like we had originally talked about. T's dad is still finishing up his chemo, so there is just no way I'm taking a sick child over there. Even if she is fine and we do drop them off Friday night, what's to say Kt won't get it?! Oh, so many things to think about.

Well, I'm off to get a few things done today. Sometimes I feel like life is just an endless amount of unfinished work - laundry, dishes, cooking, running errands, cleaning, taking care of sick children... It makes me tired just thinking about it! The scary thing is that we just used up our vacation, so it's just work from here on out! YIKES!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Benefits of Staying Home

We all can name many benefits of the privilege of staying home with our children. I have been fortunate to be afforded with this luxury and I definitely enjoyed the many benefits. We slept in a lot, had relaxing days, met with friends, went to uncrowded malls and grocery stores, played in the park when it was nice out and most importantly, I was able to witness many milestones in my children's lives. It has been an incredible journey, and one that I probably don't appreciate as often as I should.

About a month ago, I had about two hours before the girls arrived home from school. I took the opportunity to run to the grocery store. I prefer to go in the morning, but that particular day I ended up there in the afternoon. I had a short list, a typical 30 minute run, in, out and home again. T was heading home early, which was fortunate for me because I had a divine appointment - at least that is what I consider it.

My first stop was the deli and produce. I whizzed through there, picking up what I needed and then made a beeline for the soup aisle. I hate soup. I never buy it unless I need it to make something else. That particular day, I decided to bring home some soup for T as he was not feeling so well and had indicated a particular desire for something like, well, soup! I picked up a few cans and went on my way down the aisle.

As I neared the end of the aisle, there was an elderly man holding a can of spinach right up to his huge magnifying glass which was nearly pressed against his face. He must have sensed my approach because he quickly put down his hands, turned to me and asked, "Excuse me. Can you tell me if this is spinach? I have macular degeneration and I cannot read these words." I took one look at the can of spinach and thought to myself, "How did this guy even get here?" I assured him it was the can he was looking for, he thanked me and off I went.

My train of thought at this point was lending itself to immense curiosity. How did this man get here? He shops? No one helps him?? The farther away I got from him, the more the pangs of guilt built up in me. You see, I love old people. I always have. And more than love them, I'm just innately drawn to them. I had just met an old man in need, I had two hours before my children were to be home.... I just couldn't walk away. As I made my way down the next aisle I just knew I had to go back and make sure this poor fellow was OK. I easily found him, in the soup section, and asked him if I could be of assistance. He again explained his condition to me, obviously having no clue that I was the one who had just helped him.

His name was Joe, his wife was in a nursing home, his adult children lived nearby. His son brings him to the grocery store once a month, so I soon found out that Joe had a LONG list of things he needed. Not only that, he had brought along coupons that he couldn't read. He was quite familiar with the store, where his favorite items were, however many specific details or names of items were incorrect. This made for some interesting hunting on my part. Joe and I wove up and down every single aisle in that store, me telling him where we were, asking if he needed anything, locating exactly what he wanted and filling up his cart. All the while, I was grabbing my own groceries along the way. It was a journey, for me it was a luxury.

At about 3:40, I was finally heading for the checkout line. Joe had insisted that at the end of the frozen food aisle there were double baked potatoes in a blue box with the name "Lays" on them. We had searched high and low for these boxes and could not find them. After I left him in line for checkout, I had to run back to that aisle for waffles before checking out myself. As I was coming down the aisle, I spotted them. "Larry's" was the name, I grabbed a box and headed off for Joe. There he was, checking out with his son, who was surprised that I knew his dad's name, thankful I'd found his potatoes.

I barely made it home on time that day, fortunately T was home so the girls were safe. Two hours in the grocery store helping an old man shop. It was fun, it was a pleasure. I have no idea why that son was not helping his father. He seemed pleasant enough and his father clearly was not shirking help. If it had been my dad, I would have been honored to be able to serve him in that way. I don't really care how annoying he would be, it would be my dad.

The truth is that I will never have that opportunity to help my father when he's old. I won't be able to walk him up and down every aisle so he can get food for himself and his ailing wife in a nursing home. I won't be able to take him to his doctor's appointments or celebrate his 70th birthday with him. But there will be some days in my life when God will quench the thirst in my heart for that opportunity. For whatever reason, He will allow another son or daughter to step aside so that I can do what I've always wanted to - spend an hour or so with an old man or woman. And I will thank him for that luxury.

I recognize that my children and I have reaped many benefits of my choosing to and being able to stay home with them. I also recognize that if I allow him, God can shape my time and use it for His glory in situations I could not even have dreamt up myself. He knew that that moment in time would ease the pain of this time right now, sandwiched between my dad's birthday, February 22nd and the day he died, March 3. In miraculous ways that only He can orchestrate, God gently reminds me during this time that He made a way for us to be with our loved one for eternity, more importantly, with Him. I hope I see Joe there as well, because there he'll be able to see me!

Just Call Me Erudite!

I'm only posting this because I'm shocked... I usually don't do so well on these "test your grade level" quizzes, so the vocab one threw me for a loop.
Your Vocabulary Score: A

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.


On a funny note, does anyone remember junior high level Warriner's grammar books? I hated those!

How Quickly We Forget

I cringe whenever I read articles about extending the length of a school day. Are we all so old that we can't remember how long the days were as children? Are we so overworked now that we think nothing of subjecting small children to the same painful fate they will soon have to endure? Will adding 1.5 hours to a school day really make a difference? What really bothers me more is the movement in public education to "take over" for parenting. Full day kindergarten, year round schooling, longer school days say one thing and one thing only to me - FREE DAYCARE!

I recently received an email from another parent who urged parents to complain because the county added two half days to next year's schedule. The reasoning for the addition was that with the No Child Left Behind guidelines and standards, teachers are now in need of more planning and paperwork time. Adding two half days in two different quarters will give them that added time. I'm completely in agreement with this. This parent, however, forwarded a letter she sent to the Board of Education asking them to instead make the two half days one professional day because it was easier for her to find childcare for a full day instead of two half days.

Honestly, if I were a board member, my first thought would be, "Do you think that's any concern of mine?" Of course, that's me. Someone making these decisions must be thinking more of these parents because I have a kindergartener who attends 6.5 hours of school everyday, who is completely exhausted after 2 full days, and unconsolable after 5 straight days of that. The assurance I had from the seasoned kindergarten teachers was that with a full day, the atmosphere would be more "relaxed" than the half-day. After nearly three quarters, I beg to differ!! We receive the same requests to do flashcards, complete math activities, read at home with our children, yet when my daughter steps off the bus at 4 pm, she needs a BREAK! What 6 year old wouldn't? I give her that break to decompress, then we eat dinner, take baths and that leaves about 1/2 an hour of time with daddy. Who has time to do anything else? It's seriously a pressure cooker.

So, the big question.... is there a trade off for this 8 hour school day? I dread the thought of not seeing my children for that long each day, so you can't impress me with the free childcare issue. Will they endure 8 hours of "education" and then have homework? Now that would just be the ultimate insult! Would they be smarter? Doubtful, and I've read plenty of information which suggests that even a longer school year would not improve the intelligence of children. I guess the bottom line here is that I'll never be convinced. Surely, this kind of direction in education would convince me that homeschooling is an option!

I'll go out on a limb here and suggest this: if we want to improve the quality of our children's education, we will not leave it entirely in the hands of people who just want themselves to look better. We will get involved, we take the initiative, we will foster educational values at home. Parents are the ones who need to take back some of this responsibility and professional workplaces ought to recognize a parent's committment to the education of their children by allowing the time off needed, supporting parents in attending special events or field trips and contributing to educational institutes. Our nation's professional world has the means and ability to support parents and it's about time they did that!

This year has been a time of thought and decision making for me. There is a part of me that would love to return to a "real job" and actually contribute to the family finances. Then there is another part of me who reads emails from or listens to the anxiety of friends searching for daycare/summer care/afterschool care for their children and I'm thankful for not having that extra added burden. I really want my kids to come first, of course that includes being able to finance higher education for them (I'm not that short-sighted!). I would love for there to be a workable solution for the predicament we find ourselves in, but an 8 hour school day? To me, that is just ridiculous! If there is one thing I can do for my children in their lifetime, I'm hoping it will be the decrease the amount of time they are confined to a classroom and increase the amount of time they are experiencing the world.

Garage Doors

I came across this article on what I would consider an incident of horrific proportions! Apparently, in Quantico (our distant neighbor), Virginia the Marine base sent out a strong radio signal that warranted neighboring garage door openers useless. I'm so glad it wasn't strong enough to reach my home! My garage door opener is the key to my house. I'm not even sure I have my key in my purse. Had this happened to us, it may have left me stranded without a home.

It reminded me of a morning just after we'd moved in. Our first home was a townhouse with no driveway or garage. Neither T nor I grew up with garages, so this home is our first with one. I don't think we'd been here a month or two when we woke up to a power outage. As if that wasn't bad enough, we didn't know how to open our garage doors without the opener!! What a hysterical sight - two grown adults running around with no lights, no hair dryers, no hot water trying to figure out how to get out of the house.

We finally figured out how to pull on that red cord to unlock the opener and then open the door. The problem then - we were not able to shut them! I've never felt so stupid or helpless in my life. Probably the most embarrassing thing about this story - I still have no idea how to shut my garage door without that remote!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Puppy Love?


I don't know what this means, whether it's a hint that he wants to play, a sign that he's finally in love with his little sister or if he's just keeping an eye on her. Everytime I enter the kitchen, Calvin is sitting, like a duck with his paws tucked under him, right by Phoebe's crate! When she's out, you'd think she was his arch nemesis by the way he growls, barks and avoids her. When I have to put her in her crate, he won't leave her side. I guess we'll just call it an odd case of Puppy Love!

Changes

Well, since T let the cat out of the bag, I can finally let loose. It's been nearly 2 years since his first interview for his new job. We have tried to be patient, have lost our patience, have renewed our patience and finally had some of our leftover patience pay off. While T is quite excited about his new job, I'm completely anxious about it - you could pray with me.

Having this new job means huge changes for me, namely having a less flexible schedule. I have always been able to count on him working from home if I had a doctor's appointment or being able to get off early if I needed help getting the girls to appointments. I also count on him to be home on Fridays, the day I work, in case the girls are sick, which has happened frequently, or we all have a late open, which has also happened. I can no longer count on that.

My other major concern is medical insurance. Since I have "pre-existing" conditions, I have no idea what the change to new insurance will mean for me. I already know that we can choose an insurance plan that my doctor is listed under, but I have no idea what else to expect. Seeing as one of my pre-existing conditions is high blood pressure, this is not helping one iota. I am trusting God will work out the details, but I have been unable to control the acute anxiety I've had over this issue.

Finally, given the nature of his job, I'm guessing I'll have less communication with him during the day than I do now. I can pretty much call or IM T all day long. In fact, I could be the most annoying wife on this planet if I choose to, but I think we are pretty responsible with our time. What will I do when I can't complain to him about cleaning up after his dogs? (LOL - just an example of how happy he might be about this change!)

The things I'm looking forward to are the hopefully lack of middle of the night calls, all nighters he has to pull that always make him sick, his complaining about.... well, I won't go there, but I think he'll be happier in this next work environment. He will be working closer to home and there is even the chance that I can join a pool somewhere for a discounted rate - that would be worth the move in and of itself!

It's been difficult not sharing some of our more stressful times over this job situation, but it's nice that we can now openly share some of what the past two years have held for us. Once the new job starts, we'll go back in the hole about professional life - it's just better that way! If you want, you can go congratulate him on finally moving on!

Kind of Funny

Poor Jennifer Garner!
Your Musical Tastes Match: Jennifer Garner


See her whole playlist here (iTunes required)

Snow Delay

For all that snow and ice, the girls still have school today! Just two hours late, which is fine by me. I'm just glad we won't be bemoaning this storm in June. It still looks like a winter wonderland out there, but T assures me it's just wet, no ice. I might even venture out myself!

Tommy

Before I head to bed, I just had to share one last "fashion" story with you about my dad. He was never a kin to high fashion, low fashion or any fashion for that matter. Brand names? He was totally generic in every way. My mother shared with us one summer that as they sat at the beach, my father noticed a boy wearing a shirt that proclaimed in very large letters "Tommy". He said to my mom, "Wow! Look, that boy must be a Tommy." My mom, rolling her eyes and shaking her head snuffed, "No, HIS name is not Tommy. The guy designed the shirt is Tommy Hilfiger!" My dad just did his Ernie (Sesame Street) laugh at himself.

Not long after that, my father came home proudly with a pair of Tommy clam digger shorts. They were kakhi, down to his knees and had he wished, he could have even worn them to show off his underwear. Again, my mom rolled her eyes and informed him that for a teenager, those shorts might be appropriate. For his college aged son who wouldn't be caught dead in them they would even pass. But, for a 50 year old teacher they were just completely unwarranted! He loved those shorts, and he wore them with dignity right up to the end. I even saved them for a long time as a remembrance that my father couldn't care less whose name was on the clothing, but sometimes he cared that we cared.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

My Dad - again!:-)

Since I'm kind of stuck home, with various pieces of furniture floating around my house, I figured I'd take a break and write a little post about my dad. I have located the slide show we used at his memorial service and it seriously made me laugh. You can't look at my dad and not have a smile rise on your face. He was such a quirky, shameless man of unique taste and habits. After he died, it was so funny to listen to the various memories and stories people told of him. Each one revealed an oddity, a passionate eccentricity that my father embodied and lavished on all who knew him. Just for the sake of this post, we'll call them "Rudyisms".

Rudyism #1 - Fashion faux pas - never!! My father was known to wear shirts inside out for an entire day teaching, wear two different shoes, dress in plaids AND patterns at the same time and his knee high socks were a staple, even when wearing shorts. True story - when I was in college, my mom let it slip that my dad was looking at a car for me. The dealer might call while they were out for breakfast that Saturday morning, but I was not to know. Of course, they forgot to tell me where, so when that dealer called and I had to track them down, I called The Pie Plate and said, "I'm looking for a man who is likely wearing a blue striped shirt, light blue shorts with a red and white striped belt and knee high socks with sneakers." Without hesitation the woman replied, "Yup, I see him!" Embarrassing, but true, he stuck out like a sore thumb and he had no qualms about it! Add a large and bulky pair of sunglasses to the mix and he was pretty sure he was ready for GQ (which in his case stood for Grossly Quirky!).

Rudyism #2 - Waving for pictures is the in thing! Our entire trip to Hawaii I believe my dad waved for nearly every picture, including the one of him snorkeling. In that photo, he managed to wave both hands above the water! I'm not really sure if he was saying hi to you, the viewer, or if he was making sure the person behind the camera could see him, would center him and not the girls sunbathing, as was his own MO. I mean, really dad, who could miss those tube socks?

Rudyism #3 - The smirk. It was so funny looking through the slide show and seeing the pictures of him as a child. He perfected the smirk, otherwise known as the "Lovegren glare", as a youngster no doubt. It's even noticeable in his baby pictures! My father was kind enough to pass this one along to his three children and it's already evident that at least three of his grandchildren have almost perfected it as well. Now that is a feat.

Rudyism #4 - Herman and Henrietta. They are the two characters he made out of his hands. I thought he created them for me, but I found this one picture where he's just having a little discussion with them before I was old enough to be entertained by them. I wonder where they came from? Oh, the things we miss asking when we lose someone too early! The picture is a classic, and I'm so glad that I found it.

Rudyism #5 - I'm going to lump his overwhelming interests into one ism - they include money, history, education, the Bible, weather and science fiction anything. If you happen to open up a conversation involving any of those things, he would talk both your ears off and move on to the next victim. Now, you are probably thinking, "Why would I ever talk about any of those things?" My father had this uncanny way of turning any subject matter into something related to his favorite subjects, that is, if he wanted to talk. There was only one thing that could distract my father away from long, drawn out yet intriguing conversation....

Rudyism #6 - If there was a way to implant a remote control into your hand, my father would have been the first volunteer for this new, ingenius science! My father would not be caught dead without his remote control. We even saved one that had the buttons worn down so far they didn't work anymore!! Probably one of my most hysterical memories was when my brother hid in the kitchen with the universal remote and behind my fathers back would change the channels just after he did. My father became furious at his malfunctioning remote until he realized we were all laughing behind him. Good thing we were older, because as children the golden rule in our home was "never mess with Daddy and his TV!"

While it may sound very insensitive of me having fun with my dad's memory, I must tell you that he was extremely proud of each and every one of his unique characteristics. He honed them, perfected them and shared them with everyone. If I opened this post up to his family and friends, you would be shocked at the Rudyisms and the fact that each person would recognize that my father himself would have been overjoyed to be recognized in this way. You see, my father had a unique ability to not allow what other people thought of him get in the way of him enjoying life and living the way he chose. Certain things mattered to him in life and everything and everybody else just didn't interfere with that. He took our advice to heart, chuckled along with us or basically ignored the things he didn't believe. If he wanted to wear flower shorts and knee highs, he was going to do that!

Truly a Snow Event!

Here's the proof:

We've got front yard, back yard and girls heading to the neighbors to sled! It's just snow, no ice... YET! We know that's coming, so it'll basically be a snow sandwich. We have leftover ice from all the ice melting, filled with snow and then our last layer of ice on top. Will my children ever grace the doors of public school again?? Thank goodness it's the weekend!

Snowing again..

Yes, it's true. Just as the ice was finally melting from Valentine's Day, we are being bombarded once again. It began snowing around 9:30, 5 hours after scheduled, and it's just snow! Our weather reports had said wintry mix, but I'd say for the past hour we've ended up with about 1/2 an inch. It's crazy!

T had to run something up to church for me this morning. At that time, there were plenty of people there because it was doing nothing outside. An hour later, a friend of ours called and said they were sending people home from church so not to bother coming. I'm glad someone had the good sense to do that as many of our church members come from far away places (no, I don't mean Mars!). Our pastor, for one, travels quite far, so it's a good idea to make sure he gets home safely!

Yesterday was a pretty good clean up day. We'll have to straighten out a bit again, but I'm thinking today ought to be a family day. Games, movies, family stuff... I can't think of a better time to do all that than when you are stuck at home in the snow. If this all really does turn to ice, which it likely will since it's 35 degrees outside, chances are we are in for another round of snow days. Our hope for getting out of school on a decent date in June is dimishing with each and every snowflake or freezing raindrop! Groundhog, I want my early spring!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Once Again!

On the eve of yet another ice storm, this is where I wish to be!!
You Belong in Summer

Energetic, creative, and very curious about the world...
You're not going to let anything hold you back, especially a cold day.
Whether you're chilling out at the beach or partying all night, you live for the warm weather.

Me Again!

Cheese Pizza

Traditional and comforting.
You focus on living a quality life.
You're not easily impressed with novelty.
Yet, you easily impress others.

Housecleaning

Yup, that's what we're doing today... that and hosting friends. After cleaning every nook and cranny that we can, we are going to allow more little girls over to mess it all up again. And the cycle continues!

Last night, I took Em to Girl Scout Thinking Day. The older scouts organized a great evening all about Russia. I have to admit, it was a little much for the Daisies, and if I had it to do over again, which I won't!, I would not recommend it for them. They had fun amidst the moaning, I'm quite sure of it! Kt missed last night as she was home sick yesterday. She would have LOVED the whole evening.

In thinking about cleaning up my house, I am reminded of all the things I would love to do around here. There's a long list of things we don't need but would love to have, hardwood floors, new kitchen, finished basement, new windows, landscaping (especially after having our front yard with it's bushes hauled away after our sewer issue!), painting. The list is long, the cost is out the roof - sorry for the pun, but it is intended, except that we just had a new roof put on last fall, so I'd like to keep that intact for a while!

So I pose this question, to myself and anyone reading, do we pick one of our projects to improve this old house or do we save our money to take our girls on this summer's mission's trip? The cost of the trip for all four of us to go will come close to the cost of hardwood floors. While it's difficult to really put a price on the impact we can make in the world for Christ, I want to get the most bang for my buck! I could wait YEARS for hardwood floors, that's not a huge "sacrifice" for me. But when I compare the two I wonder... I'm tempted to skip the floors to impact my two daughters. Just working through this thought process...

Well, off to clean, whistle while I work and think about God's plan for this summer. Cleaning can be a scary thing!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Secretly Hoping...

well, it's not a secret now! The wind is howling excessively outside, rattling our windows, throwing the grill around the backyard and rumor has it (if you read weather.com like I do!) that there may be widespread power outages. I'm hoping for one of those, because two weeks in a row off from teaching those three year olds just doesn't seem long enough! LOL Here's to hoping for no school in a certain county tomorrow!

Happy Birthday, Dad!


Today is my dad's birthday. He would have been 63. He would have been retired by now and he and my mom would probably be living somewhere in Virginia or North Carolina. At least that was the plan. T had agreed that if they retired and moved down here that we would move closer to them, so that was our plan. I don't know if we would have done that or they would have done that, but I know now that will never happen.

Sometimes, we think we have the perfect plan. I would LOVE to live near my family. Instead, my mom and brother and sister-in-law live 5 hours to the north and my sister lives 9 hours to the south. That's in no traffic! I'm stuck in the middle, 3 hours away from the nearest beach, too far north to be warm but too far south to be close to my mom. I liked my plan, but I guess I'll have to come up with another one or just wait to see what God's plan is.

So, my dad. 63, and would have been loving life as a retired grandpa. He now has two more grandchildren whom he has never met. He also has a new car - and apparently he is still getting some mail! Just next week, it will be 4 years since he went to heaven. In some ways I can't believe it's been that long. In other ways, I feel like I just saw him, talked to him and hugged him yesterday. We would have celebrated our birthdays together as usual, or he would have whisked my mom off on some cross country adventure. I can still hear him saying to me, "Stay busy." I guess I listened!

I don't really think saying that I miss my dad really covers the range of my feelings. It's so much more than missing or wishing he was still here. When I think of all the things he has missed it makes me grieve for him, for us, for me. When I think of where he is now, I am humbled to realize that the plan for our lives is so much bigger than here, now, earth and our temporary bodies. Life everlasting. It's so much better than life temporal.

Happy Birthday, Daddy! I'll see you soon!

Picture: My dad's dream was to retire in a house on a lake. This is him vacationing on Lovell Pond in Maine.

Here's a little story Em just wrote about Pabu. He died just after her second birthday, so she does not remember much!

Today was Pabu’s birthday. He’s turning 63. He died already and he’s in heaven. But I want him to come back. But when I die he’s going to be up there waiting for me. Pabu was my best grandfather. He loved to eat M&M’s with us and he had his own chair. His chair is pink and I don’t know why because he’s a boy. And his chair - the bottom of it can come up and it can also massage, it can like vibrate or something. The End.

EZ Pass Woes

Apparently, using an EZ Pass in Maryland can be a problem. It never has been for us, unless we use it in someone else's car! I still cannot stand EZ Pass people who go through the 10-15 mph EZ Pass lane and stop dead in the booth - that absolutely drives me crazy!! If you want to stop, go through a regular lane! Eventually, there will be a catastrophic accident due to one of those bozos!

After reading this article, though, we'll have to check our EZ Pass bill!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bizarre Bigbearfoot Story

This one is just excruciatingly bizarre. It goes from bad, to really bad to completely unbelievable! It wasn't worth mentioning until I read this:

Fonseca has another project in the works that might be of note to Bigfoot watchers on local highways. He is using fake fur and a mannequin to make a gorilla-like creation for a customer who plans to carry it in the passenger seat of his jeep.


Now, how can we take anything these guys say seriously??

Just As I Thought!

You Are Mexican Food

Spicy yet dependable.
You pull punches, but people still love you.

HEATWAVE!


One of my Christmas presents was an indoor/outdoor thermometer, so now I know while I'm in bed if it's even worth it to crawl out from under my sheets! Today I'm out because it's 9:45 am and it's already 55 degrees. This is a major heatwave for us - Yippee! Now maybe, FINALLY, some of that ice will melt!

JetBlue

I am sad about all this JetBlue news lately. We've had some awesome experience with that airline. Em even asked us before flying Southwest if there would be TV's on our seats! We flew JetBlue to and back from LA last summer and experienced no delays, wonderful service and great flights.

My brother and his wife flew JetBlue from NYC to Seattle, missing their first flight due to traffic. JetBlue actually rebooked them for us through me on a phone with my brother, while he was in deadlock traffic, and JetBlue. No penalty, just rebooked them on a flight out the next morning. I was really impressed with how simple that transaction was. On their return flight, they also had a wonderful experience with being rebooked due to the fluke NY region power outage. Again, no issues.

This is not to say that if I sat on a runway in a JetBlue plane for 8 hours I wouldn't complain, but isn't that partly the airport's fault? I would be quite sad if JetBlue went under as I much prefer their cheaper flights with assigned seating over Southwest, who give me nausea instead of pleasure with their "seating policy"!

Last Sunny Florida Day






On our last day in Orlando, we slept in a bit, said goodbye to the zebras and went on our way to the Magic Kingdom. We had a short list, as we'd been there Thursday night already. For a Sunday in early February, the place was completely packed! Not to mention, after a day with dream fastpasses, we collected as many as we could because waiting in line was just not an option for us!

We fit in all our favorites, including The Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean (very long line!), Aladdin's Magic Carpet, the Carousel and the Mad Hatter's Tea Cup rides. We also rode the People Mover and laughing hysterically when the woman said, "Paging Tom Morrow, Paging Mr. Tom Morrow" - we are cheesy joke lovers I guess!

We also allowed the girls to ride the Barnstormer kids roller coaster together without us. I have to say that this was a little nerveracking for me again, but they did so well at Sea World... Of course, we kept an eye out for them in line and made sure they could see us. At one point, with a bunch of other adults around us and several in line, Em yelled to us, "All the other kids have their parents in line with them!" and then put on this wonderful pouty face for us! Way to make your parents feel great at WDW! They survived and loved the ride, no parents necessary.

After roaming the park for most of the day with groups of cheerleaders from the National Cheerleading competition and builders who had attended the National Builders Conference in Orlando that week, we were spent. We actually left the park a bit early and even forgot to pick up our free picture. I have to say, I really enjoy staying at Disney longer with hopper passes so we can split those long days in half! For this trip, though, we just had to say enough is enough. Our poor little feet were screaming for the end. We said goodbye to the mouse and Cinderella and our week in Florida.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Prayer

With a few minutes left on my birthday, I'm asking that you pray for this family and little Emily. There is nothing worse than a child in pain and not knowing the cause. Also for Matt's family tomorrow... please Lord, touch these families with your mercy and grace.

Birthday Verdict

We've reached a decision on the Macbook vs. iMac case: we are returning the Macbook and waiting... until we know exactly what we are doing with our family room, our computer that is on it's last legs and my desk situation. Today, the box with the Macbook in it served as an excellent laptop desk! I'll be sorry to see it go!

For the rest of my birthday, after I did the grocery shopping and made my birthday cake (Duncan Hines Chocolate Fudge cake with whipped white icing!), the girls were very excited to give me their presents. From them, I got a musical card, which was by far their most favorite gift. They listened and danced to it all night - some country song. I guess my musical preferences are not at all clear to them! They also made me a Build-a-Bear bear, dressed her in a sparkle T-shirt, denim miniskirt and pink Skechers. They spent a long time showing me her patches, the stickers that she came with and her birth certificate - her name is Ella. They also ate two of the four Godiva chocolates Em gave me - they thought nothing of sharing - so sweet!

Then T gave me a gift certificate to a day spa. I've never gone to one of these before, so this should be a treat. I had planned to tag along with my neighbor to another spa, but this gift certificate is to a different spa right up the street so I guess I'm on my own. Who could I drag along with me? Anyone? I don't like doing this kind of stuff by myself, I'm way too introverted! Should be interesting!

T is downstairs setting up our new stereo receiver, speakers and getting ready for the movie we are going to "rent" on demand. Who needs a new laptop when you have all these other over-stimulating options? Certainly not me!

Tomorrow, back to real life, doctor appointments, work, church stuff.... On a bright note, temps nearing 50. Spring, please come early. This cold, dark, dampness is really dragging me down. I need a little spring in my step!

Disney Days: Animal Kingdom

Our last two days in Orlando were spent at my favorite magical place, Walt Disney World. This is the perfect day to write about this visit as it was partly my birthday present. We opted for a shorter Disney stay so we could try out the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Since our package included two park days and one night at the resort, we had to check into the Lodge before heading to the park. It was not easy, but we got up early and drove in (that wonderful back way!) and up to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to check in.

This resort is grand, but our mistake with the girls was spending a day at the Wilderness Lodge, which has a bit more of a grand entrance crazy to say. I was immediately impressed, where my two children were quick to note it was "smaller" than the other place. While smaller, it certainly held more surprises for them than just ducks in a wading pool.

After checking in, we drove over to the Animal Kingdom for the day. The great thing about Disney in winter is that the Animal Kingdom stays open almost as long as the other parks, so it doesn't seem like you are missing out on much. There is still no evening show, but that's OK, especially when you are spending the night with the animals!

We began our Animal Kingdom morning with a trip on the Kilimanjaro Safari. I am always telling friends to do this. Bypass all the hoopla in the park, head straight for the back of the park and get on one of the first rides on this safari - you will NOT be disappointed. The ride was the longest I've ever taken, as we were held up by giraffe's crossing the road, wandering about. It was almost like they were asking to have their photos taken!! What a super fun morning ride that was.

When we got off, we made a grave error. Being the Type A, neurotic sort of person that I am, I took all our Disney passes and went out to get Fast Passes so that we might enjoy that ride again later with our friends who were planning to join us, K & M. I sent T and the girls along the Palagoni Trail to check out the gorillas. I then waited at the exit. And waited, and waited... I should have followed them and joined them, but I waited. They finally came out - with AK Disney Dream Fastpasses! But only three of them!! I have a big beef about this, but really, who can complain when you have just won something? They refused to give them a fourth fastpass, which in essence split up our family. Three fastpasses is a little weird, as most rides are for two people. But whatever!! As it turns out, T doesn't really go on rides and Em was too little for half of the fastpass rides. All in all, it was a stroke of wonderful luck and we apologize for assaulting the gift giver several times in hopes of obtaining a fourth to complete our family. (Oops!)

What a super fun day with our fast passes. We hit as many rides as possible, including the Twirl roller coaster, Dinosaur, Expedition Everest (a wonderful ride!) as well as catching the new Finding Nemo show. That was spectacular!! We had hoped to use our fastpasses to see the Bug's Life show, but it was closed due to technical difficulties. Maybe next time, if my family ever allows me to drag them there again! We left the park ready to give the Animal Kingdom Lodge pool a try, although it was a bit nippy by this time.

When we returned to the Lodge, we got our first glimpse at a Savannah view room. We had a wonderful location on the third floor, which is actually the level upon which you enter. Just outside our door was the elevator that took us down two levels to the pool. It took us about 2 minutes exactly to get to the pool, so we couldn't ask for a better location! The pool was fun, water was warm, especially when submerged. By this time, the sun was setting on the opposite side of the hotel so the pool was in the shade, a cold breeze was blowing and once I was in, I stayed in! The girls went down the pool water slide over and over and I finally ditched the pool for the dinky hot tub. Seriously, at a deluxe resort a hot tub that is only big enough for 8-10 people is just not adequate in my opinion. Fortunately, in the middle of the winter, only that many were even willing to give it a try!

That evening, T made reservations for us at Boma, the African buffet restaurant. The food was outstanding, very close to what T had experienced in Africa only much spicier. I was surprised at the number of food options and that Kt tried many of the foods and like them. Fortunately for Em, they still served some macaroni and cheese for the kids. Even K was happy they had some ketchup!

After dinner, we explored the lodge a bit before completely collapsing in our room. We were all so tired at this point. The room was not at all what I had expected for a deluxe Disney resort. We have stayed before at the Old Key West moderate resort, the Beach Club Villas deluxe resort and way back when at the Disney Institute. In each of these resorts, we had extremely spacious rooms and bathrooms. Even at the Disneyland Hotel we had two very large rooms, with a kitchen, living room and large bathroom.

In contrast, the AKL room was tiny. I've stayed at Super 8 motels with larger rooms! We had a queen bed and twin bunk beds. There was enough room to walk on either side of the beds and a chair next to the queen bed. An armoire with a TV was set in the middle of the two. The girls had a difficult time watching anything from their bunk beds, but just the thrill of sleeping in them for the first time made them happily peer over the side of the top bunk for their limited TV viewing. The bed was comfortable, but not the Disney size I remember, where their queens are typically king size and the California kings are king kong size! The bathroom? Well, let's just say lion's den size and lighted! I felt like I was in a cave. The door to the bathroom barely missed the toilet and tub. Not impressed.

Of course, if you choose to stay in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, your focus is surely drawn outside, where breathtaking views of the savannah in all it's glory are the real centerpiece of your stay. We had enough foresight to bring along our binoculars, and I'm so glad we did. We saw plenty of giraffe and zebra, watched them play, eat, run and frolic. Our funniest sight was the bunny - I'm not sure if they are native to the African savannah, but it wouldn't be Disney without a rabbit sighting!

All in all, the programs for children and adults, food and atmosphere at the Animal Kingdom Lodge make it a must visit. I am glad we stayed for a night and that we decided on the savannah view room. If we ever stayed at Disney for an entire week, I think I would lean for a different resort though. I would definitely return to the AKL for food and fun, but I love the oversized Disney rooms of the other resorts far better. I'm a little overpampered I guess!

After collapsing from pure exhaustion, we slept in a bit before heading out to the Magic Kingdom on our last Disney day... more about that later! (Pictures just do not do the AKL justice!)

Yup, I'm Old

This post today is going to require audience participation. I have a huge dilemma and I need everyone's vote! As usual, there's a long story that goes along with it, so I'll let you know first what you're voting on, then you can read as many of the details as you wish! For starters, yes, it's my birthday. Happy Birthday to me, but that is not what I want your help with (unless you have truly found the fountain of youth!).

This morning my wonderful husband presented me with a Macbook. The question is: do I keep it or get something else?

Now, I had not asked for this and I love the laptop that I have. He hasn't really told me why he so desperately wants to get a Mac and why it's for me, but he's been talking about getting one for a couple of years. I find this very intriguing, as when I met him I was a diehard mac fan and he absolutely hated them!!

I right now have a 15 inch laptop and I LOVE the widescreen. It works perfectly for me, but I only have it because we bought it for a little project that fell through. Since I have NO DESK or workspace in this house, I decided to adopt this nice computer. I love it! My previous computer is a desktop one, is in T's office and has been adopted by my daughters. It, however, is on the fritz. Maybe that's why T bought me this one?

Now, a few months ago we looked at the new Mac store in our mall. I totally fell in love with the desktop iMac with a HUGE screen - I'm all about big screens when it comes to computers. The problem - I don't have a desk and no one in this family is in any big hurry to get me one except for me! I have been wanting a desk since we moved here - no desk. I've shown everyone about 10 versions of the desk I would love, no desk. Instead, I get another laptop.

The problem - this laptop he got me is a 13 inch screen. I'm afraid to open the box because I think being used to and loving my big screen I'm not going to like the 13 inch. When in Orlando, my friend had a 13 inch Macbook. It was small. And I really had a lot of trouble with the touch pad - didn't like it at all. On my current laptop, I can double click on my touchpad - on hers, I could not. I also lost all my text in emails several times. That drove me crazy! And - it was small.

I don't really know what to do. I really loved the big screen iMac, but if there is no initiative to get me a desk in this house where would I put it? And since I love my computer, especially it's size, maybe I should just get another one of my computer if we need another computer? I just don't know. Maybe I should just give T the Macbook - I think he's the one who really wants one! HELP!

Monday, February 19, 2007

My Uncle's Memorial

I just wanted to share this with everyone. It's a post by my cousin about her dad, my Uncle Dave. Much of what she shares resonates with the way I feel about my dad, whose 63rd birthday is in 3 days, and whose death was 4 years ago this March 3. My uncle was an interesting man, one who I wish I had been able to spend more time with.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

To Honor a Father Category: Life
My Dad, David, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at age 68 at
Torrance Memorial Hospital. He was diagnosed 11 days earlier with a very
large and aggressive malignant (cancerous) brain tumor (glioblastoma) - that was
not related to his cancer of 10 years ago. He deteriorated very fast
before our eyes. He had no pain and always seemed at peace. He was
visited by many close friends in his final 2 days. My sister L, my
Mom, and I were with him, and enjoyed some quality time with family and friends
in his final days.A beautiful funeral and vigil services were held
on Thursday, Feb 15th and Friday, Feb 16th. We had over 200 friends
and family members in attendance. We had a private burial on Saturday, Feb
17th at Green Hills Memorial Cemetery in Rancho Palos
Verdes.

Thanks for all of your energy, compassion, love and
support during this time. My family feels blessed with so many great
friends and your show of support.Thanks also to those of you who have reached
out with emails, voice messages, and cards. Your thoughts, words, and
support have been wonderful, and I plan to connect with each of you in the
coming weeks. Donations can be made to the American Cancer Society in
honor of David C. My Dad has been a supporter of ACS since he beat
cancer 10 years ago.

A beautiful memorial video/picture collage can be found at http://obit.lafuneral.com/obit_display.cgi?id=380423&listing=Current

To Honor a Father and Friend
Eulogy by Alisa


We want to thank
each and every one of you for joining us today in this celebration of my
father's life. We are grateful for your love, support and prayers that
have helped Dad and us get through the last few weeks. My Dad's two
sisters, Karen and Cherry, who live on the East Coast were not able to join us
today but they are with us in spirit.

My Dad was not only my father
but also my dear friend. Whenever I had an hour to spare in my busy life,
I loved talking to my Dad and talking about some of our favorite topics like
everyday life, religion, social issues, travel, finances, dreams, relationships,
nurturing our positive attitudes and more. We shared an open mind and we
always looked at life and challenges from many perspectives.

My Dad truly embraced life – even more in his last 10 years after
he endured cancer treatments and beat it. He used his positive attitude to
deal with the surgery, radiation treatments and recovery. We are all
grateful that he retired 9 and a half years ago and truly embraced his last
decade of life. He often enjoyed walks on the beach, our vacation home in
Lake Arrowhead, lunch overlooking the water with good friends and family,
Starbucks with a good book and international travel. We would often talk
about the many lessons that he learned in his journey through life.

One great example of my Dad's ability to truly embrace life is
when he and my Mother were traveling in New Zealand. At 62 years old, my
Dad decided to try bungy jumping for the first time at the world's first bungy –
Kawarau Bridge. He stood in line in the cold and wind for hours while he
witnessed nervous younger people half his age bungy jump. My Dad said that
he only felt excitement for this challenge. He talked about this
incredibly fun experience every chance he had for the next few years. You
could feel the passion and energy in his voice about this unforgettable
experience.

My Dad also had a great sense of humor and loved a
bargain. Lately, we have discovered that it was my Dad's turn to pay for
the next lunch or dinner with many friends. We are wondering if this was
an accident or just careful planning on my Dad's part. While preparing for
this beautiful celebration of life for my father, we didn't spare any
expense. We also wondered what my Dad would say if he was still alive and
knew how much money we spent on his funeral. He might well have a heart
attack on the spot.

Thankfully, this way of life for my family
helped my parents enjoy many beautiful vacations and cruises around the
world. His bargain hunting skills will be carried on through his loving
wife Marie who still loves to visit a great garage sale now and
then.

We will all remember Dave's sense of humor, stimulating
conversations, his friendship, his advice, his passion for life, his love of the
water, his healthy eating, his love of travel, his love for his wife and
daughters, and his love for his grandchildren and extended family.

I would like to leave you with a quote from one of my Dad's favorite
songs.
"Let there be Peace on Earth and Let it Begin with
me!"

We love you Dad!!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Heat Wave!

I see after checking out the weather for next week that we're finally having a heat wave!! Looks like we might actually make it into the 40's! That's awesome news for me because these teens are really getting to me. Of course, the sunshine today has made up for it.... but only a tiny bit! Brrrrr!

Sea World Orlando


On our third Orlando day, after T's conference was over, we slept in a bit due to our late night at Disney and then went to Sea World. When we had first planned this trip, hands down the girls voted to go to this park, so it was important that we followed through. It was their first time there and Em especially was quite excited to go. She's our animal lover!

Because we arrived a bit late, we didn't get to do everything, but light crowds helped in our scramble to see as many things as the girls were interested in. After doing a little research, we opted on using our Southwest Rapid Rewards card to get 20% off admission. We chose that over the Fun Card, where you buy a day and get the rest of the year free because we just didn't see ourselves using that particular ticket in the next year. I would LOVE to, but right now that is not in any of our plans.

After getting through the gate with our map, which they print daily with showtimes, we opted to head over to Shamu Stadium for the Believe show. What an incredible show! I know I've been to Sea World before, but I was amazed by the size and strength of those killer whales. I was also amazed by the trainers, who allowed themselves to be propelled underwater and launched into the air by these beasts. I have to say, the show got a bit corny at the end, but it was certainly a treat to see those whales. And the soak zone? Let's just say the whales utitlized every last inch of it. Do not sit there if you do not want to leave completely soaked!

After that, we went down to the kiddie area and the girls rode the jellyfish ride, had their picture taken with a polar bear and killer whale characters and rode the shamu roller coaster. It was the first time we let them ride a ride at an amusement park by themselves, so it was quite strange. I love riding rides, but they really wanted to go alone, so we let them. They did really well and loved it!

That particular day, K came to join us around lunch time. We ate at the Hospitality Deli, where you can get an incredible deli sandwich AND they give you free beer. I have a feeling that 20 years ago when I went to Sea World it was not owned by Annheiser Busch, as I do not remember this building, the beer or the stable with those Clydesdale horses. Just a feeling, but I"m pretty sure none of that was even there.

After lunch, we decided to head over to the dolphin show. This was a real treat. It was a full scale dolphin show set to music and included the trainers, many dolphins, acrobats, bird handlers and beautiful tropical birds that flew around the stadium. It was a beautiful show and we were glad not to have missed it.

From there, we had a make a few choices as we were running out of time. The girls really wanted to feed the dolphins so we started in that direction and found ourselves at the Sting Ray pool. T bought some feeder fish and we all watched in amazement as he fed them. The girls were pretty reluctant to try. Kt put her hand in with a fish - brave child - but backed out at the last minute. You have to put the fish between your fingers, put your hand on the sand (a bit too low for the girls) and the Ray swims up and grabs it out of your hand. We were able to get some cool pictures and the girls figured out they could pet the rays while T fed them. When it was my turn, all the fish were gone! Oh, darn!;-)

A few steps behind us, we arrived at just the right time to feed the dolphins, which was easily the highlight of our trip. T waited in a long line - although I heard Christmastime was worse! - for more fish. He and the girls found a spot to feed and found a spot to take some really awesome pictures. Before this experience, Em would continually say that she wanted to "swim" with the dolphins. Now, I think she was quite happy with just feeding them. They are fiesty little creatures, one having completely soaked me when I reached down to touch him. They are extremely playful, friendly and smart. I know if we ever return, the girls will choose to spend a majority of the day with the dolphins!

With only an hour left in the park, the girls opted not to ride the Atlantis ride. I think Em was too short anyway. We visited the Sea Turtles, Manatees and Alligators. The girls got their cotton candy they'd been whining for all day and we went on our way. We'll save the rides for next time, and the Pet show and the penguins. We were sorry we missed the penguins, but the dolphins made up for it. In all, a wonderful day!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Blog Hopping

So, I was next blogging and found this really cool testimony. I hope this guy doesn't mind me linking to this story, but it's so amazing. It makes me wonder the impact that the internet will have on these next generations much like radio did in this story.

Who Put Sushi in My Peanut Butter?

Who would have thought? Salmonella poisoning from peanut butter?? Well, I just threw away our two opened jars of Peter Pan peanut butter with the numbers 2111 on top! And who in our house eats peanut butter? Well, Em is pretty much addicted to it. And yes, she was the one with that week long "stomach flu" before we left for Florida. I also eat it, but only if my stomach is queasy. And it was, after cleaning up so much stomach flu, so I'd also had some peanut butter the day before we left... when I got sick on the plane. I don't know what I had, but that peanut butter is G-O-N-E GONE!

Happy Birthday, Aunt J!

Today, my sister-in-law turns.... I can't say, but it's a big one, I think! Unfortunately, I haven't made it out yet to get her a card, so it will be a little late. Aunt J is my brother's wife. They were high school sweethearts, in fact she's been a part of our family since before T and I met! Of course they waited much longer to get married. Hopefully, she has some better weather than we all had for Valentine's Day!

Happy #% Birthday!!
LOL!

Pirate and Princess Party Addendum

I thought it worth mentioning, the girls, upon receiving their odd pin set, pulled the set apart and put a pin in each of their bags. The girls and I then went on Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride in Adventureland, where Em accidentally left her pouch on the ride. The ride attendants gave us a bag, but the pin was not in it. On our way out that evening, I checked in the Emporium to purchase another pin for her. When I explained what had happened and they replied with the fact that those pins are not available for purchase, they marched me over to the "Town Hall", where after explaining our little mishap, they disappeared into the back and reappeared with a new pin set for us. I have to say, this is one of the things I do like about Disney! A child is never to leave in tears!!

Disney's Pirate and Princess Party


On our second evening in Orlando, we had prepurchased tickets to a new event at Disney World, the Pirate and Princess Party. While it sounded intriguing, very few people knew anything about it, so we went on a whim. It was a bit pricey and risky, considering weather might have made it a complete washout! Lucky for us, while it was cool that evening, the skies were clear and the day had been quite warm.

I ordered the tickets online and decided to pick them up on will call. Never having received the email confirmation they claimed they would send, I easily called Disney ticket reps for the confirmation number and then tried to figure out where I'd pick these things up. Another stroke of luck - on our Disney excursion to the Tri-circle-D Ranch, there was a ticket window with no one there. They were able to print out my tickets for me! We had planned on checking at the Wilderness Lodge as well.

Tickets in hand, the four of us returned that evening to the Magic Kingdom for the PPP. Because of the conference, we were unable to test the information given to K that people with PPP tickets can actually enter the park between 4-4:30 in the afternoon - that would have been really nice, but I didn't find that out until we'd returned home to wait for T, and then we had to drop of L at the airport, so we arrived at Disney that evening around 7:30, when all the PPP stuff began.

As we exited our car, it became increasingly clear to all of us that we'd forgotten one very important item - our costumes!! Apparently, you are supposed to dress up as a pirate or a princess for this event. I'm not sure how that major detail missed our attention, but we were obviously out of place in our plain clothes, and THAT was even in the parking lot!! I was happy to point out to my husband that I am not the "Disney Freak" that he thinks I am. We were completely surrounded by them, and I think he conferred with my assessment!

Note to anyone who attends this - don't take the ferry!! Take the monorail! The monorails run constantly, the ferries... well, the first one pulled out as we were walking down the ramp with about 10 people on it, the second one pulled in, unloaded then announced it was going out of service for the evening. The next one arrived with about 15 people to unload and then 15 of us got on. I guess everyone else had gotten the message, meanwhile, we missed 1/2 an hour of the party! We arrived at the Magic Kingdom around 8:15!!

Upon arriving we were given a small pouch - small being the key word. It was faux velvet, 4 inch square pouch, for collecting our "treasure". Along with that, we picked up a "treasure map" which indicated which rides would remain open, where the photo stops would be and X marks the spot treasure spots. There was a parade time and a fireworks show, viewable from all over the park. The entrance to the park was transformed to a smokey, colorfully lit, red carpet entry. Inside, in various areas, there were groupings of dancers, jesters, pirates, you name it. While it still looked like Main Street, you could feel the difference.

Because we had entered so late, we went ahead and found a seat in front of the bakery, grabbed a bit of dinner, and waited for the parade, which began at 8:30. The parade was short, had all the princesses and their princes on floats and then the pirates arrived. The Jack Sparrow in the parade was eerily the twin the Johnny Depp! Well, not in real life, but it looked like Johnny had joined the parade for the evening.

After the parade, we followed our map to Adventureland, passing by some really awesome photo stops. We completely missed the point of this evening, I'm sorry to say! Having never attended a Disney special event evening, we really had no idea that the photostops and the rides are the focal point of the evening. We were going for the "treasure"! As we turned into Adventureland, the girls received a pin set. Very skimpy here, Disney. As all four of us paid for and went to this party, we should have all received this pin!! It seemed as though they were only giving this out to children. It was a 2 identical pin set together - the girls got one to share. Very strange. Nothing for mom and dad, who had to pay more to attend! Needless to say, this set our expectations very high for the "treasure" aspect of this evening. Sorry to say, we were sorely disappointed!

For the rest of the evening, we hit every single treasure stop, which were marked by large spherical paper lanterns that had been placed atop of street lights. At each stop, we would walk through a roped off line, the end of which either a pirate or princess attendant would put some Hershey's chocolates or a plastic bead necklace in our pouch. (For a minute there, I thought we'd taken a wrong turn and ended up at Hershey Park!) It took us about 4 of these spots to realize that was it for the treasures!

We went on a couple rides, but had also passed some thinking we would never make it to all the treasure stops if we went on every ride. Big mistake! We passed up Pirates of the Caribbean with NO LINE for Hershey's kisses. Hmmm.... oh, and you could get a small bag of raisins at each stop if you wanted those instead. Kt started getting those for our hostess, K, stating, "Like mom always says, we paid for it so we might as well take it!" Don't you love it when they are old enough to "get it"!

As we entered Liberty Square, the fireworks show began. We choose a bench that faced the castle and waited, only to find that the fireworks show actually took place behind us! And all around us! It was a great show, had a pirate and princess story to go along it, and at one point had fireworks all around adventureland and frontierland! This show was definitely a highlight of our evening, and we were glad that they resolved the issue of the disappearing castle.

After realizing our error in thinking the treasures would be Disney related goodies, we started spending more of our time on the rides. We hit Small World, the Carousel, Buzz Lightyear until we finally quit out of pure exhaustion. We chose a photostop in front of the castle, with the belief that we were getting one photo for free included in the package. While that has been the case with other events, it was sadly not the case for this one. We could have filled up a photo card with unique pictures only set up for this evening, but we didn't! Instead, we had tiny overflowing bags of Hershey's treasures and plastic necklaces.

Our advice to anyone wanting to give this party a try: 1. Take advantage of every photostop and ride that is open. There is rarely a time like this when you have the park practically to yourself with no lines! 2. Buy your kids a bag of Hershey's chocolates and dollar store jewels and pass by the lines at the treasure stops! 3. Don't miss the parade or the fireworks show - they make the evening magical.

While this evening was not at all what we expected, I am glad we went. I think Disney could easily make this evening more magical by varying the treasures. My kids LOVE the Disney golden coin chocolates that Disney sells - I'm not sure why they didn't use those, except it was cheaper for them to use Hershey. We also had an eager little one who ran up to the first cast member she saw holding gold. It was not a treasure stop, but that cast member had two plastic gold "coins" that she plopped in the girl's bags - the only ones we saw that night. You would have thought they were real gold!! The girls treasured them all night as much more valuable than chocolate! Also, treat the parents like they really did pay $20 more each to attend this event - give them pins!

We finally left this event at midnight, just 1/2 an hour before it was over. We were wiped out, but knew we had a day at Sea World ahead of us. This time we took the monorail back to the parking lot, mostly because we were all freezing, but also because we didn't want a deja vu!

Pictures: 1. The girls and I on a nearly empty ferry to the Magic Kingdom. 2. A Cast Member was kindly taking pictures at the entrance. Unfortunately, the family before us refused to move! 3. Cinderella and Prince Charming in the Enchanted Adventures parade 4. A pirate ship in the parade 5. A "photo stop" you can see set up to the right of our picture. The girls were trying to mimic the minnie and mickey topiaries.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Power of Love

Here's a great read for Valentine's Day, if you like the science of sex of love. I thought this was an interesting study, and the reverse at the end left me laughing out loud!! Love is more than an emotion and there's scientific proof of that. When I read that the pain of rejection is a real, physical pain it made me ever so grateful that we will never be rejected by the One who matters most. Thank you, Jesus!

Dangerous Mixture

As I sit here, still in bed (hehe), I am listening to the scratch of sleet on my windows, the sound of my girls playing with their doggies, home from school on this treacherous day. The forecast is grim, calling for more sleet and freezing rain, extending our winter weather until 1pm when high winds will follow. I'm feeling like I've gone from one extreme to another in such a short time. A vacation of sunshine to real life cold and snow.

On days like this, I sometimes try to imagine what it might have been like 100 or 200 years ago. I'm freezing, but back then what did they do? No electric, no gas heat, no cars.... did they wear 10 pairs of socks and all the clothes in their drawers? for days on end?? Did whole families cuddle up close together by the fire? How did kids with asthma manage? OK, so that last question is a little weird, but seriously, Kt can't deal with an indoor fire! So many questions that just make me so thankful that I was born in 1970!

Day Two: Disney Exploration!


I guess if I want to be a true Disney Freak I need to relocate to the Orlando area. At least this runs through my mind each time we visit our friends. As we sat around the day before, my friend said to me, "I was thinking, if you'd like, we could head over to the Wilderness Lodge tomorrow, take a 20 minute nature hike and visit the Tri-circle-D Ranch, where they do pony rides and we can visit the stables. That is, if you are all up for a hike!" Up for a hike? After sitting around in sub-freezing temperatures for months, we are totally up for a sunny, warm hike!

We all set off for a Disney adventure the next morning. I'd never heard of the Tri-circle-D Ranch, so I was excited to see this. If you've never been to Disney World or are planning to be in the Orlando area but not going to any of the Disney Parks, I'd highly recommend this little excursion. We drove to the Wilderness Lodge, discovered the pool that we were planning to stick our toes in was being renovated, and headed on our way to the Ranch. After a short paved hike, we arrived. We visited the stables, saw some beautiful horses and also Cinderella's white ponies. Em had fun stamping her foot like they were doing in protest of getting all gussied up for a wedding that day.

We then had our first Disney disappointment as we discovered the petting zoo and pony rides were closed, due to reopen the very next day!! Boy did we miss that one! We had a couple unhappy pony riders with us, so we now know next time to call first. At this location, there is also a restaurant, a trading post, a playground and some personal watercraft rentals. When I was a kid and my family camped at WDW, I believe this was where all the action was! It all looks so different now.

We decided to take a short boat launch to the Magic Kingdom, where we then hopped on the resort monorail, hopped off at the Contemporary Resort (I'd never been in there, very interesting), Em caught a glimpse of Cinderella's slipper and we changed into shorts, then walked out to the pool - wish we'd brought our suits!, then hopped a boat launch back to the Wilderness Lodge. I didn't know this, but if you look at the back of the Wilderness Lodge from the boat, you will see the image of a bear face. I tried to get a picture, but it turned out a bit fuzzy.

Once we returned to the Lodge, the girls ran around the wading pool in their shorts. They were then joined by a couple ducks!! who also joined us under our picnic table. Yes, it is certainly the wilderness! We enjoyed a short, late lunch before heading home to get ready for the Pirate and Princess Party that evening. Truthfully, a Disney vacation just at one of their resorts is enough to keep anyone occupied. No park visits necessary!

Valentine's Day Fun

Here are some fun, snow day activities to try out:

Your Candy Heart Says "Hug Me"

A total sweetheart, you always have a lot of love to give out.
Your heart is open to where ever love takes you!

Your ideal Valentine's Day date: a surprise romantic evening that you've planned out

Your flirting style: lots of listening and talking

What turns you off: fighting and conflict

Why you're hot: you're fearless about falling in love


You Are A Realistic Romantic

It's easy for you to get swept away by romance...
But you've done a pretty good job keeping perspective.
You're still taken in by love poems and sunsets
You just don't fall for every dreamy pick up line!


Happy Valentine's Day!
Enjoy!