Saturday, January 29, 2011

Our Final Day in Disneyworld...

Well, it’s been MAGICAL! We have had such a great time with no real problems along the way. We didn’t lose any children, no huge brawls or fights, still have a few $ left and didn’t gain too many extra pounds! So, if that’s what it takes to be a successful trip, we accomplished it! We do all need a few days hibernation to recover but that may be quite unlikely. Ironically, the kids all have a PD Day this Friday!

Seriously, Disneyworld is magical. We met the nicest lady yesterday on the tram to Magic Kingdom. She and her family were from South Carolina. She summed it up best. She said, “Bringing your kids to Disneyworld is one of those moments when you feel like you can pat yourself on the back as a parent and say – I’m trying to do a good job as a parent!” Of course, there’s lots of those moments that you tuck away in your memory and treasure later. This one has definitely been added.

We saw a small portion of Magic Kingdom yesterday and claimed complete fatigue around 5pm. With big smiles, full bellies and dreams of future adventures together, we headed “home” to swim and pack. We managed to eat up the rest of our food – dinner of mashed potatoes, pasta, grilled cheese, cereal and yogurt. We didn’t even have any complaints about the menu! We love how easy going our kids are. They have been fantastic. We’d do it again in a heartbeat! It may be a bit longer than that, but we’ll be back!

PS This was posted from the Seattle Airport where they have free WiFi. Go Seattle!

Friday, January 28, 2011

We Went To Hollywood!

Or at least it felt like it! Hollywood Studios was full of great shows and some cool rides. We never did make it on the Toy Story ride. It was very full. We never saw a wait time less than 80 minutes and fast passes were gone almost before the park opened. But, we did rock it out on the Rockin' Roller Coaster! Like mom's hair? The Tower of Terror was terrific and we saw some amazing shows!!! Our personal favourite was called "Lights, Motor, Action!" It was a stunt show with cars, sea doos, fire, motorcycles and peoples. It was SOOO amazing!Mom got to be an extra in the Indiana Jones stunt show and had to turn down an offer to be a real stunt double claiming previous committments requiring her attention. Did open up new possibilities for the future though when considering what to be when she grows up.
The Beauty and the Beast show was a musical. What more can you say? It was beaut
iful...and so romantic! (Deep sigh) Ask Matt and Parker. They LOVED it! Honestly, it was really fun!
We also got to go to what felt like a real show of American Idol. They have auditions all day long and during each show, there are three previously chosen contestants. At the end of your show, you vote on your favourite. That person goes on to the final held every night at 6:30. The winner of the final every day is given a "Golden Ticket". It gets them front in line into any real
American Idol audition anywhere across the country. They told us that already this season 5 of the people who have made it to Hollywood had Golden Tickets from Hollywood Studios. Kind of cool! We are big American Idol fans so we all loved "being there"!
One day left! We're exhausted! We swam, ate and fell into bed!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Few Pics that got Missed...

Somehow these pictures didn't make it on the Hollywood Studios blog. But they are worth adding for record keeping purposes!

Wait... there's still a few more things to see...

It was actually 12:10 when we left the house for the day! We enjoyed the morning of "down time". Then we headed back to Universal Studios to see a few more things. We loved MIB. (Men in Black) and The Mummy coaster. It was all in the dark! The kids met Jaws - though we couldn't go on the ride because it was closed for maintenance.
Then Hannah wanted us to go back to the water ride where she delighted in seeing everyone get soaked the day before. But, ironically, the joke was on her because she was the one to get SOAKED this time. We had to record her reaction on film! Sorry Hannah! Then we made her go on Jurassic Park one more time... DRENCHED this time! Nice parents, huh?
We went back to the car to change into the dry clothes we had so wisely brought. We thought the park closed at 7pm. But as we made it back to the main gates at 5:45, they told us it closed in 15 minutes! AAAAH! We wanted to get to Hogwart's one more time! So, at 100m time trial pace, we booked it to the castle. We managed to get one more butterbeer, buy a Ginny Weasley wand and the kids rode the blue dragon coaster again...twice! Their last ride on it was the last one of the day! So, that adventure certainly got our adrenaline pumping! We were so glad to get back into the land of magic one last time!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gringott's, Hippogriffs, Olivander's and Butterbeer...

For all the Harry Potter fans out there, you have got to see the castle here! It is unbelievable! As soon as we walked through the gates, it was if you'd stepped into the wizarding world of Harry Potter and all things magical. The people were dressed exactly like you imagine them. The accents were perfect! The Hogwart's Express seemed to have just arrived carrying it's young crew. Ollivander's was amazing! In fact, Parker was chosen to be the muggle for whom a wand was chosen. The third wand picked matched him perfectly! 11 1/2 inches and made of vine. He was told that with it, he would accomplish great things and be loyal to all those around him. We really felt like we were there. The roller coaster was amazing! Your feet hang above that ground! The actual car that Ron and Harry flew in was there in the whomping willow. The Nimbus 2001 flown by Malfoy hung in Dervish and Banges. We tried Butterbeer which is more heavenly than you can imagine. The froth on top....yum! We ate in the Three Broomsticks and got some treats in Honeyduke's. Moaning Myrtle was in the bathroom. We saw the Mirror of Erised and Dumbledore's bowl of memories in the castle. Dumbledore was there too - on video reminding us that the time was soon coming when we would have to "choose between what is right and what is easy"... We did not want to leave! But, there was so much more to see!

Islands of Adventure was a great adventure. The Jurassic Park water ride and the Popeye and Olive boat ride were both right up Hannah's alley and she delighted in seeing everyone get soaked! Except mom, who insisted on wearing a rain poncho. :) Being wet provided a perfect excuse to buy some new clothes - notice the Thing 1 and Thing 2 attire! Little did we know that the real soaking was yet to come... Suessville was very neat. Unfortunately, the kiddie ride of Cat in the Hat did in a few of us with it's abrupt twists and turns! Who knew? The Incredible Hulk roller coaster was ...incredible! We had no lines anywhere! After riding it a few times, it was over to Universal to see what was there.
We watched a cool 4D movie on Shrek and Fiona defeating Lord Farquad...again! In it, your seats moved and jostled when Shrek was riding a horse and when donkey sneezed at you, you got sprayed with water. It was so cool! Then we rode the biggest roller coaster any of us ever had. Hannah was a couple of inches too short, so her siblings helped her pile her hair a little higher on her head (Thanks to Uncle Jim's example at Calaway Park... :) ) and she walked on tip toes in her shoes - and they let her on! It was amazing! You can see it behind her in the photo. Also, the poncho because as soon as we got off, the rains came! Actually dumped! Even with our ponchos on everyone, we were drenched! Cool thunderstorm!
Matt had a great suggestion - get out of the rain and go eat at Golden Corral - a family favourite that we have not been able to eat at in quite some time as the one in Great Falls burnt down. Everyone was in agreement and we headed there. Sara summed it up perfectly. Eating at Golden Corral is like playing Tetris. You have to eat it all in the perfect order to make it all fit in your belly because there is so much more to eat at the buffet bar. Everyone ate and ate - including Matt who ate his meal then went back for more, then ate dessert, then had macaroni and cheese, a little more dessert, then asked Sara to get him some nachos. Maybe it's a good thing we haven't been there in awhile. :)
We had tickets to the 8pm show of Blue Man Group. Dave tells me that part of the magic behind it is that you're not supposed to tell specifics of the show to others and that's what makes it so much fun. So, I guess I won't say much other than that we loved it! The Captain Crunch, marshmallow and toilet paper scenes were highlights. There, that's all you're getting out of me. The humour was so funny and random! We highly recommend it to everyone if you ever have the chance. For those of you who take cheap flights to Vegas periodically, they play there on a regular basis.
So, tomorrow has been declared a sleep-in day! We'll see how well we have "down time". I'm sure we'll be out and about by noon. Look out Orlando - the Stewart's have way too much more to try and see before we leave you in peace!

Another "Magical" Day!

Back to Epcot for the bulk of the day! It is impossible to see all of Epcot in one day! Oh, wait, that word is no longer in my dictionary! Well, it's very difficult to see and do everything. So, first we hit "Test Track". It's a great ride recommended to us by the Evanson's. Actually, we rode it once at the end of the day on Saturday too but needed to do it again. At the end of it, there was a Chevy Volt. Dave does not often express a desire for material possessions but he has expressed an interest in the Volt. So, we took a picture of him by it.
Then off to the country pavillion again. Who knew we would find China in the middle of Florida? It was great. We ate some Danish pastries, saw amazing films on China and Canada and had to have fish and chips from Britain one more time. After Matt and Hannah created their own track for a roller coaster, we decided we could use a little down time. So, we headed "home" for some swimming and reading/napping. Mom went whirlwind shopping for an hour. For all you moms out there who need to dress your kids, you cannot beat JC Penney for boys suits and white shirts. And you cannot beat Ross for brand name t-shirts and socks for kids. Want to hire me to be your personal shopper? When I grow up, I want to be...
Before we came, we purchased some tickets for an NBA game. It was tonight. The Orlando Magic vs.the Detroit Pistons. We got there early and enjoyed all the pre game hype. We got our faces painted, walked around all the concourses and ate a vendor hot dog. (Dave's favourite!) The atmosphere was electrical!Everyone was so pumped! The fans were enthusiastic and fun. It was nothing like some hockey games we've been to. The fans were not rude or obnoxious. (Sorry to all the hockey fans out there...) We had such a great time! We may even now be convinced to be Orlando Magic die hard fans. It was fantastic. Oh, and the Detroit Pistons won by 7 points. Oh well...
So, off to Hogwart's tomorrow...Can't wait...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Sabbath in Orlando

It's always a little harder on vacation to make sure that you're staying within the realms of appropriate when it comes to sunday. At least it is for us. If that makes us heathens, well, then there you have it!
We found a ward today that started at 10. That is one nice thing about vacation, you can pick your start time according to how you feel! The internet sure makes it nice for locating a building as well! You just have to go here.
Afterwards, we decided to head east for a calmer day at the Kennedy Space Center. It was really interesting. It involved a tour guide on a bus out to the shuttle launch pad and some educational movies. The next launch, we learned, is scheduled for February 24 (which is this person's birthday) It was supposed to go in November but there were some mechanical difficulties (I guess you don't want those if you're going to space...) There will be 6 astronauts on board and this will be the 39th and final mission of the shuttle Discovery. They will be going to the International Space Station and delivering 2 of the final pieces needed to complete the space station. There are 6 people currently living on the space station. When an astronaut goes there, they are committed to stay there for between 1 and 6 months. Neat, huh? We decided that you would not only have to be quite smart to be an astronaut, you would also have to be very brave, able to function under great stress and have a very good eye for detail. I like Nasa's motto. It is "Failure is not an option". One video we watched was of astronauts who had walked on the moon. One of them said, "I tell all the children I talk to to open their dictionaries at home or school and find the word 'impossible'. Then take out a black marker and cross it out. That word does not exist." I liked that.
So, a "home cooked meal" of frozen pasta and pizza topped off a great day! Another busy day tomorrow. "Vacation" means different things to different people! :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Squeeze the MOST out of Every Day!

Our day started at 6am when we left to find Winterpark where we were registered for a 5.2km road race. Unfortunately, the camera battery died so the only photos are on Dave's phone which I didn't down load yet. So, just picture in your mind a crazy family of 6 arriving at the last possible second to pick up race packages with shoes undone, hair unbrushed, looking frazzled. We managed to get our race numbers on - though quite crooked and our race tags on our shoes. We jumped in after the gun had gone off anf had a great run! The course was beautiful. We ran partly through a neighbourhood with homes that resembled castles. Unreal! Free fruit and Cliff bars topped off the event and we left tired - and very happy! We hit some outlets on the way home. Mom declared she would never shop in that attire at home but it's amazing what being anonymous gives you the courage to do. And really, who can pass up a good deal?
The day was not full enough so we quickly came home, changed and headed to Epcot for the afternoon and evening. It was spectacular. Highlights were the food- crepes and quiche in France, cool drinks in Japan that reminded dad of his mission, fish and chips in Britain and an amazing funnel cake. We plan to go back on Monday. We loved Test Track and the fireworks were like an Olympic event. Fantastic! The girls all got to meet Mary Poppins! How neat is that?
Funny story - we went to a presentation in the American Pavillion and were all a little tired so most of us dozed off a few times during it. Sara, though dozed off for most of it and it wasn't until after we had all left that we turned around and noticed Sara was missing. She was still asleep in the theater and we'd all left her there. Thanks to the kind lady who found us and told us where she was! Dave was afraid security might follow us the rest of the night! Guess we were a little worn out - at least that's our excuse!
Why not get the most out of every day? That seems to be a theme here! Hakuna Matata!

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's not -30 Degrees Here!

We arrived! After a full day of plane rides, we safely made it to Florida! We almost had to leave Matt at security when they found his geometry set - with a very pointy compass - in his backpack. OOOOOPS! They eventually let him go, with geometry set in hand because one of the security guards pled his case and said, "The boy's got to do his homework!"
Did you know that in January, the normal apparel here is shorts and sandals? Hard to believe! We have rented a house here which is so perfect because then we have all the conveniences of home. We bought a few groceries last night and ate here. We swam in "our"
pool last night upon arrival. How cool is that to swim outside in January? Today, we took on Animal Kingdom despite the rain. Actually, it was great to have rain because the park was not busy at all! We had no lines or waiting.
Tomorrow we are entered in a 5km road race...We are just doing it for the Florida t-shirt. Normal people would probably just plan to buy one. But, we could never be counted as normal!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Adventures Reflection

We all went back to school today! :( The morning went much smoother than anticipated! We even made it to seminary and the bus on time - with lunches in hand! WOW! Most of the decorations are now put away, the house got vacuumed, mail sorted and laundry is at least washed - mounds of clean clothes on the floor await to be folded! The house seems so quiet and Buddy sat by the window looking outside all day hoping the kids would miraculously appear. The two hardest days of the year for me are the first day after summer vacation and the first day after Christmas break. It's great to have the kids home and spend so much unscheduled time together! We loved having Patrick, Kim, Leah and Dillon here and completed 40 puzzles together - a new record. We skated, skied, ate, played games, ate some more, cross country skied, watched movies (Voyage of the Dawntreader, Tangled, Despicable Me, It's a Wonderful Life) and ate again! Our family was able to participate in the live nativity on Christmas Eve which brought a great spirit for the season! On New Years Day, we hosted our annual Boxing Day Run (rescheduled because Boxing Day was on Sunday) Afterwards we had everyone over for breakfast. It was delicious and our largest attendance ever - about 50 people. What a great way to start the New Year! Next time you come to visit us, we'll have to have German pancakes. We were introduced to them that day. Guaranteed you'll love them!
So, back to real life for all of us. Lessons, schedule, work, callings... Don't get me wrong, we're grateful for all those things. It was just so nice to have a break! We'll look forward to next year! An elderly lady from church that I spoke to today wisely told me that we are fortunate to have the month of December because it brings us great joy. How true!