Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Disney Day 6: Animal Kingdom and the Cruise

We finished packing all our luggage up and left it at the door of our room for Disney to transfer to the ship. We just took one day bag and the stroller with us to Animal Kingdom. We were a little nervous that somehow we wouldn’t get all our luggage, but it turned out to be just fine. We were a little sad to be leaving the Polynesian too. We really liked staying there and highly recommend it to anyone looking to go to Disney – although I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to afford to stay there again! We got up extra early as we had a breakfast reservation at Donald’s Breakfastasaurous at Animal Kingdom at 8am. We needn’t have gotten up quite as early as we did as the bus to Animal Kingdom did not show up til almost 7:30a anyway, but we were at the bus stop at 7am as we were advised by Disney Dining. Once we got to Animal Kingdom we checked in with the Cruise desk and checked our day bag with them. We ate breakfast at Donald’s and it was our only character dining experience and I guess I was expecting a little more. The food was okay, standard breakfast buffet kind of stuff, eggs, bacon, biscuits, cereal, donuts, yogurt, sausage, etc. The characters were nice too, posed for pics at each table and Katie really liked that part although Alex was rolling his eyes a bit. Nothing to really complain about, but I doubt I’d pay the $18.99 price per person (over 10yrs) again though.

We just had the morning at Animal Kingdom, but we did the safari ride, the Pangini Forest trail, Triceratop Spin, and saw the Nemo show before having to head to the front of the park for the bus ride to the ship. It was challenging to keep Katie quiet and well-behaved on the bus ride, but somehow we made it without any major meltdowns. There was a video about the cruise on the bus that showed some of the characters doing various activities onboard that semi-entertained her and that helped some. The granola bars and cheez-its I had in my bag helped even more. Mercifully she fell asleep in my lap with about 30 min. left, so I got to relax a bit before we reached the port.

Finally the ship came into view outside the bus window! Woo Hoo, we were almost there. We got off the bus and put Katie back into the stroller to stand in line to get on the ship. The line was just those from the buses and moved pretty quickly. Most of us were on Land and Sea vacations and had already “checked in” at our hotels, so we really just needed to pass through security and board the ship. We did have to make one stop to register Katie for the kids programs once we got past security. We had registered Alex online, but since Katie was a few weeks shy of her 3rd birthday we had to register her in person. They allow kids within one month of being 3 to join in the kids clubs as long as they are fully potty-trained, but you have to do it in person.

Once we had that taken care of, we boarded with no trouble at all – just showed our key to the world cards and we were on the boat! We went right to our stateroom to check it out. Our bags were arriving just as we were so that was nice too. We loved the balcony and I took tons of pics that all look about the same just cause I loved being on the balcony so much. After dumping our stuff in our room, we headed up to Beach Blanket Buffet and had lunch. It was a pretty good spread – lots of hot and cold choices. I had a ton of peel and eat shrimp as it is one of my favorites. They also had a lot of dessert choices and I tried the raspberry cheesecake, but I have to say it wasn’t very good. Very grainy and didn’t really taste like cheesecake – it didn’t have that rich flavor at all. And frankly, none of the cheesecake I tried onboard was any better. This was the one area of cuisine in which I was very disappointed. Apparently, the Disney Wonder cannot make a good cheesecake. The rest of the food was very good though and we were hungry because it was now pushing 2pm and we had eaten breakfast at Donald’s at 8am.

Next up was the lifejacket drill they make everyone do. Katie looked pretty hilarious in her little lifevest. Our station was in the Animator’s Palette restaurant and we sat for a few minutes and were accounted for and were then able to leave. One of the cast members told us we could leave a few minutes before everyone else since we had a small child. We went back to our stateroom and dressed for dinner and then went back to Animator’s Palette which was also our assigned dinning room that evening. Dinner was wonderful! The servers were super attentive. I had some sort of mushroom and gravy appetizer in a sort of a bread bowl – cannot remember what it is called now. The waiter saw DH trying some of this off my plate and brought him one too. It was really yummy. I ordered the Filet Minot, and I think DH had salmon? Cannot remember now what DH ordered. We are used to ordering two different things though and then sampling off each other’s plates. Well, the waitstaff saw us doing this and then brought DH another Filet Minot. We could not eat it all but it sure was tasty!

About 15 min. into dinner Katie was getting restless. We tried to distract her with the pictures on the wall – they were black and white sketches from various Disney movies that were slowly becoming colored as the evening progressed. Very cool. This was not working though – probably because she was tired and over-stimulated from just another longish day with no nap on vacation. So I took her to the kids club after she had eaten a reasonable portion of the kids hamburger that she had ordered. I got to enjoy my entrée and the start of dessert – I ordered a hot fuge sundae – yum – before they paged me to come pick her up! She had a potty accident. Oh no, I was worried that meant she couldn’t come back to the club, but the staff was very understanding and reassured me that she could come back after she was changed and cleaned up and it was no problem at all. Apparently, she was in the bathroom when it happened – she had trouble getting into the stall and up onto the toilet by herself and that is what caused the accident – not that she didn’t try to go when she needed to. The toilets were the same as they were in our stateroom, so I helped her practice there a few times that night before taking her back to the club the next day.

I should also mention for those of you reading because you want to know about how the cruises are that there was a big sail away party with Mickey and Goofy and that the pools and everything were all open during all of this. There was also a nighttime show that is supposed to be very good. We avoided the sail away party because we hate crowds and it seemed like it would be hard to enjoy yourself it that many people in one place. We didn’t go to the nighttime show (live entertainment) either and instead we explored the ship and then turned in early. We were very tired from several big days in a row at Disney World and we needed to just get a really good night sleep. Alex though stayed out late at the kids club. He had a blast! Since he was in the 10 – 12 group he was allowed to come and go from the club as he pleased (as long as we consented to this arrangement and we did), and he really enjoyed his freedom. The club would page us whenever he left though, so we knew where he was at all times. When he’d leave the club they’d page us and tell us he was on his way to the stateroom, or the pool, or wherever and we’d go catch up with him. Even though we didn't request it, our stateroom host provided turn-down service each night of our cruise. Here is the towel animal he left us on the first night.

Just more cruise to tell about for the next installment.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Katie is 3!

Katie turned 3 on Memorial day. I cannot figure out for the life of me where the last 3 years went, but I'm sorta glad to have the baby years behind us. I love my daughter dearly, but I'm glad to be moving into the age where she can do a little more for herself. Of course, these days she wants to be doing a little too much for herself and we are usually struggling with her wanting to do things herself, but not quite being able to manage it just yet. Tantrums and struggles result. We'll get there though, and I'm trying to let her do as much as she can but still be there when she really does need me.

In stitching news, I finished the 20th letter (T) on the baby afghan this afternoon. Would have finished it last night only I ran out of 3325 and had to wait til my way home from work today to stop and get a skein. All done now though. Since the next Mira RR still hasn't arrived, I get to work on something of my own choosing tonight - I'm waffling between "Waiting for Ships" and "Silkwood Manor" hmmm wonder which one will win out.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Disney Day 5: More Epcot and Animal Kingdom

Aren't we big dorks? This is us 'dancing' in front of the Cinderella topiary at Epcot.

It was our last full day at the parks and knowing we had to be up early for an 8am breakfast reservation at Animal Kingdom the next day, we decided to sleep in a bit. We let everyone sleep until 8am and managed to get out of the room and on our way to Epcot by about 9:15. We got to ride up front on the monorail again to Epcot! We felt pretty lucky to get to do that twice in one trip.

Once at Epcot we found ourselves just sort of meandering through the park and doing things here and there that we hadn’t seen yet. I had no set plan or agenda, so we just winged it. We saw the Figment ride/show and Honey I Shrunk the Audience. Now, I knew Honey I Shrunk the Audience was a 3D show and that some people warned against taking young kids in because it could be scary. I figured they were talking about the 3D effect being scary and since Katie did fine at Muppets and Philharmagic, I figured she’d be fine at this one too. This is definitely the scariest of all the 3D movies in the parks. Katie looked very worried and needed lots of reassurance, mostly because it seems (especially to a 3 yr old) that you might actually get stepped on. Also there is an effect that makes it seem that mice are crawling on you – but she was sitting on my lap and I don’t think she felt that one. This was the only thing we took Katie too that I was thinking, “bad mama, bad mama” the whole time. She really didn’t cry or anything, but I could tell she wasn’t having fun.

Alex and I also did Mission Space again – this time I was the Pilot and he was the Navigator and amazingly enough we managed to save our mission yet again. Such old pros we were. For lunch, we ate at Electric Umbrella again. I think we were just trying to keep everything low key and not stress, so we did what we knew. This time I had a cheeseburger and Alex and Sean had chicken strips. Katie had a kids burger, but with apples and grapes instead of fries. She actually ate pretty well.

After lunch we stopped at Club Cool and sampled all the Coke products from around the world. I really enjoyed the Watermelon one from China. We also checked out several exhibits in the Innoventions buildings and sent this postcard to several family members from one of the exhibits. We also looked at Minnie’s butterfly tent which was neat to see all the caterpillars and the resulting butterflies among all the pretty flowers. Alex and Katie also took a break to play on the nearby playground there.

It was pretty hot that day, so we found ourselves heading back to the hotel relatively early. The swim break felt really good that day! Animal Kingdom was having Extra Magic Hours that evening so we decided to head over there and see what we could for a few hours after our break. We ate supper at Pizzafari, which was good yummy pizza, but nothing really special. The most annoying thing at Animal Kingdom was that they do not allow cup lids or straws in the parks because they do not want the waste to harm the animals. I understand this, and I don’t necessarily think they should change that policy or anything. It was just really annoying trying to carry our drink in the cup holder of the stroller and have it sloshing all over my hands and the stroller all the time because the walkways are so bumpy. (The walkways are done in a mud-looking cement that had animal tracks and “fossils” in it.) Anyway, not a whole lot was open for the Extra Magic Hours, so we were only able to see “It’s Tough to be a Bug” another 3D movie – this one Katie was fine with – and the Festival of the Lion King show. Katie really loved the Lion King show. She was dancing and clapping in her seat the whole time. I think she enjoyed it much more than Sean and Alex who just didn’t appreciate all the cool performers.

Since LOST was on that night, we were sort of glad to have an earlier night and we went back to the hotel to pack everything for the next day as we were heading to the cruise on Thursday!

Oh, and the last thing we did that night – Katie and I finally went out to see the water pagent on Seven Seas Lagoon. It was great, and Katie and I did it just us, she just sat in my lap and watched all the pretty lights. Because of the dark, most of my pictures didn’t turn out that well. There is probably a setting on my camera that would help this, but I’ve never taken the time and effort to figure it out.

Next up: More Animal Kingdom and the start of our Cruise!

Disney Day 4 Continued: World Showcase and Beaches and Cream

After our afternoon break, we went back to Epcot to have dinner and to see the World Showcase. It was close to 5pm already when we arrived at the park, so we figured we’d eat first and then really get to seeing the World Showcase. I did take a few pictures of the flowers on our way to the back of the park where the World Showcase is – Epcot has a flower and garden show every year about this time and the flowers and topiaries are just gorgeous!

I had heard good things about the fish and chips at the Yorkshire Fish counter service outside the Rose and Crown pub in the United Kingdom section. Being a good Catholic girl from Wisconsin, I love a good fish fry, so we decided to try that. The fish was pretty good, but a tad on the greasy side for my taste. Also there was really no place to sit and eat it. We tried to just pull up a piece of curb and eat like we saw many other families doing, but we choose poorly and ended up being in front of a Tiger topiary and people kept stepping over and around us trying to have their picture taken with Tiger. We moved down the curb a little way, but that didn’t really seem to help and generally we couldn’t really relax while we ate. Katie had fallen asleep on the way to the park in the stroller, so she didn’t eat at all right then, and we saved her some fish and chips (fries) for later.

I wanted to buy an Epcot passport and have it stamped at all the countries. This seemed like a fun touristy type activity and after I bought the passport I spent a lot of time putting in all the stickers in the darn thing. Once we got ready to start actually looking in the countries though, Katie woke up and we spent another 15 – 25 min. getting her fed. Finally we started touring the countries. The bad thing about the passport was that it had us looking just for the kidcot stop to have it stamped and we probably missed out on really exploring the better stuff in the World Showcase. I have to admit to not really remembering anything I saw there. Katie had a blast though coloring a mask they give you to take to each country and get stamped. (This is free too, so a much better deal than doing the passport.) We only saw Canada , UK, Morocco, and France before it was getting dark and we were getting tired. Also we had wanted to head over to Beaches and Cream at the Beach Club resort to try their big ice cream dishes. Sensing that everyone was losing their patience for the hunt and seek of the passport stamps I suggested we just go ahead and get our ice cream before it got any later. No argument from anyone – image that!

We walked out of the International Gateway at Epcot and took the walkway to the Beach Club resort. We asked no less than 3 cast members for directions to Beaches and Cream before we finally got there – the trick was to go through the pool area – the entrance was on the other side. We just wanted to eat ice cream outside, and the wait for a table was something like 30 min., but we discovered that you can only order an ordinary sundae or a cone to go – no big sundaes or ice cream dishes. Sean really wanted the Banana Split and was really looking forward to it, but when we found out we’d have to wait 30 min. for a table he decided he’d pass. Alex ordered a hot fudge sundae and I had a choc waffle cone. Once we sat down to eat, I could just tell how disappointed Sean was at not having the Banana Split and watching me and Alex eat our ice cream. I went back over to the woman taking walk ups and explained the situation. I asked if there was anyway we could get a Banana Split to go – put it in another container, whatever. The main problem was that it was in a glass dish. She called over her manager and the manager was sort of snippy and just refused. After a few minutes, finally the hostess figured out we could probably come right in and sit at the counter if I was willing to hold Katie on my lap. Well, yeah! I was so grateful to this hostess for helping out and getting us in at the counter. Katie was sharing my ice cream anyway, so having her sit in my lap was no big deal. Sean got his big Banana Split, and for him this was probably a highlight of the trip!

After filling ourselves to the gills with yummy ice cream (All four of us ended up helping Sean finish that huge Banana Split!), I looked at my watch and realized it was about 8:50p. Since Epcot closes at 9pm, I began worrying we wouldn’t be able to get back to the park in time before they closed the International Gateway – and then how would be get back to our hotel? I knew the monorail would run for awhile after the closing, but wasn’t sure how to get to the monorail if we didn’t go through the park. So we booked it back to the International Gateway and got in just as Illuminations (night time fireworks show) was starting. Again, not the best view as we were coming late and everyone else had staked out their views well in advance. We could see most of the fireworks though and it was fun to watch all the countries around the World Showcase light up near the end of the show. A nice cap to the evening. Then it was rush in the pack of people out to the front of the park and onto the monorail, which actually went pretty quickly and smoothly for the number of people. We went to bed still full of ice cream and feeling pretty happy. We decided though that since we were going back to Epcot in the morning and we’d seen all the “headliners” we wanted to there, we were going to sleep in a bit the next day!

Next up: More Epcot and some Animal Kingdom

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Katie's Blanket Finished!

The backing is fleece and very warm and snuggly. Now to finish that other afghan, I've been stitching on that this weekend too and have finished the O and P blocks and I'm currently working on Q. I also stained the new trim around our new entry doors and primed/painted the wood foundations they are mounted onto - whew, I'm tired. Oh, and we took my car into to have the A/C looked at because it wasn't cooling and it is going to cost $1000 to fix. For an old 1997 Cavalier - nah, I don't think so. So DH and I started looking around at dealerships this weekend too. We are going to probably buy something used though, maybe a 2004 or 2005, we'll see.

I'm going to try to write some more of the trip report tomorrow - we'll see how busy I get with other stuff though!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Disney Day 4 Part 1: More Magic Kingdom

I’m really proud of this picture I took of the Castle, I’m not usually the best photographer, so I have to relish the ones that really turn out nice.

After our usual morning routine we went to Magic Kingdom for the park opening again. Somehow we got there about 15min. earlier than last time which was fine cause we had fun knocking around a big beach ball with the rest of the crowd. Alex and Katie especially got a pretty good kick out of this, and so did Sean. Since we had done pretty much everything in Fantasyland, today we headed to Tomorrowland. We did Buzz first with no wait and then the Indy Cars with maybe about a 10 min. wait. Then we did Carousel of Progress since it was just getting ready for the next showing. Sean wanted to do the Tomorrowland Transit Authority but since there is never any line for that and it was already almost 10 – we headed for Toontown (which opens at 10am). Right before we left Tomorrowland we spotted Stitch and Katie had her first character interaction.

After a quick bathroom break we got right in line for Donald, Chip ‘n Dale, and Daisy Duck. The wait was posted at 15 min., but it was really more like 5 – 10 min. Katie was a little shy with the characters, but seemed to warm up to them as we went. Next, we did the walkthrough of Mickey’s house and Katie thought it was pretty funny that Mickey’s kitchen was so messy. If I say to her right now, “remember Mickey’s house?” She’ll say, “His kitchen is messy!” We managed to get into the line to see Mickey with about a 15min. wait, which turned out to be more like 20 - 25min. because the family in front of us had like 12 people and took dozens of different combinations of pictures. Finally we got in and snapped a few pics of Katie and Alex with the Big Cheese!

After the character greetings we decided to see whether Katie would enjoy the Barnstormer ride. It is pretty much a short kiddie rollercoaster. She was tall enough (you have to be 35 inches and Katie is about 37 in.), and on we went. She did really well and didn’t seem scared at all – I was really proud of her. There was a girl about her same age in the car behind us that got really scared and cried at the end of the ride, but I really think her dad telling her over and over again not to be scared might have had something to do with it. We never mentioned being scared to Katie, and I don’t think it occurred to her that she should be. Sean didn’t ride with us cause he was again too chicken so I took his picture sitting on the bench while we were standing in line. Ha!

After Barnstormer, it was getting close to lunchtime, and since there was only hot dogs (as far as I could tell anyway) in Toontown, we decided to ride the train to Frontierland and eat there. When we got to Frontierland, Sean decided he’d like to try the El Pirata y el Perico counter service place in Adventureland since he was sick of sandwiches and burgers. I agreed and I sent Sean and Alex to get in line while I took Katie potty.

Here we go again – I got Katie to go potty with almost no trouble, but when we came out of the stalls and were ready to wash hands she had another meltdown. There was one sink that was lower for little kids to use and there was another little boy using it when we were ready to use the sinks so I just steered her over to one of the adult sinks and helped her wash her hands there. She was fine with that until she spied the shorter sink as we were leaving and then wanted to use it. I might have relented and let her just wash her hands again, but there were 3 or 4 kids in line and I didn’t feel the need to wait that long just to indulge her. I just said, that’s okay, you’ve already washed your hands, lets go find daddy. She tried to wait by the sink and I had to pick her up and head for the exit and she proceeded with the kicking screaming act she pulled the day before. This time however, I had had a good night sleep and was prepared to lay down the law and deal firmly. I took her outside the restroom and stood her on her feet sort of in a corner off the path next to a building that was there. She couldn’t really run anywhere, and I just let her throw her fit. I told her we weren’t going to get to have lunch or do anything else until she calmed herself down. This lasted about 10 min., but she did eventually calm herself and when I asked if she was ready to be good and go have lunch now she said yes. During the peak of the tantrum, another little boy and his mother passed us on their way into the restroom and I overheard the boy ask his mother, “Mama, why is that girl crying?” The mother responded, “Oh, she’s just having a meltdown, kinda like you did about 3 times yesterday!” I felt a little better and exchanged smiles with the other mother.

After Katie recollected her composure, I went over to the restaurant to see how Sean and Alex were doing thinking they had probably decided I wasn’t coming back. They were sitting in the restaurant with no food because this particular restaurant doesn’t open til 12 and it was only about 11:40a. So we decided to do the Pirates of the Caribbean ride while we waited for the restaurant to open. Pirates was almost a walk-on, maybe a 5 min. wait. Katie looked a little worried at the beginning when they show that pirate/skull head projected onto the waterfall, but she didn’t cry or anything and she did fine after that. After the ride, we headed back to the restaurant and Alex, Sean, and I all had the Beef Tacos and Katie had the children’s quesadias. I’d say it is on par with Taco Bell or other fastfood type taco places although it did have a pretty good fixes bar for the tacos. The hard shells for the tacos were a tiny bit stale though. We ordered grapes and carrot sticks instead of chips or fries for Katie as side items and found that she ate those just as well and that settled it – no more fries for her!

After lunch I wanted to do Jungle Cruise, but the wait was 30 min. and we didn’t know if we’d stay long enough to use Fastpass (didn’t want to overstay and risk a repeat of yesterday’s meltdown). So we did the Tiki Room, which was okay – Alex got a kick out of the way they trick you into standing up and then saying – “Now get out!” Then I wanted to look at the Swiss Family Treehouse, but it was roped off and they weren’t letting anyone on. So we decided to head back over to Tomorrowland to do the Tomorrowland Transmit Authority that Sean had wanted to do earlier in the day before we headed out of the park. On our way over to Tomorrowland, we stopped and got another of those big ice cream cookies at Sleepy Hollow and we all shared it.

When we got to Tomorrowland, we noticed that the new Laugh Floor Comedy club was open, and since I’d heard it was going to be like Crush, which we’d enjoyed, we decided to go ahead and do that real quick. It was funny, and worth the peak, but definitely not as good as Crush. When we left the theater we couldn’t find our stroller. We had parked it out front near the fastpass machines for Buzz, and since there were other strollers there at the time, we thought that was okay. Apparently it wasn’t and a cast member had moved it to one of the designated stroller parking areas. We guessed this is what happened right away, but the stroller wasn’t in the nearest stroller parking, but in the one on the other side of Tomorrowland, so we had a few stressed moments trying to find it before a cast member told us about the other parking lot. Once we found the stroller Sean and I looked at each other and pretty much said at the same time, “Let’s go.” We knew that not finding the stroller could have been a lot more stressful than it was and after the day before – we weren’t going to press our luck any further. We headed out of the park and back to the Polynesian for our afternoon break and swim.

Next up WorldShowcase and Beaches and Cream

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Disney Day 3: Epcot and the Great Katie Meltdown

Yes, as Erin predicted, we did have at least one meltdown – in fact there were several, more than I can count, actually. Up to this point, Katie had been a bit cranky here and there, but it was mostly just little kid whining and pouting with a little bit of naughtiness thrown in for good measure. Nothing we couldn’t handle and roll with. We kept doing what we wanted to do and pretty much just didn’t give into the unreasonable demands, while giving her the things she really did need. For example, whining for more water – wish granted. Whining for a new toy – denied. Even when she was whining for water or a bathroom break, we’d stop and ask her to say please and ask nicely. Mostly she cooperated, but she was very grouchy. I knew being out of her normal schedule and environment was going to cause some general crankiness, so we just tried to deal as best we could without letting her get away with total murder.

So it was with this attitude that we went into Day 3 – our first Epcot day. We actually had several hours of good fun before the first and absolute worst meltdown of the trip – or the “Great Meltdown” (as it will be forever known to our family and a few thousand people at Epcot who were unlucky enough to witness it).

We started the day the same as the day before, up at 7am, breakfast in the room, on our way by 8:15am to try to make the park opening at 9am. As I mentioned, today we were going to Epcot. I gave Sean the resort map of the Polynesian and showed him where the walkway to the Transportation and Ticket Center was and where our building was (we were in Tokelau) and let him navigate. This worked quite well and we were at the TTC in about 10 min. I think a monorail had just left for Epcot, because the line for the Epcot monorail was completely empty. We were the only ones there for the first few minutes. Gradually more people walked up and then the monorail showed up too. We got in the first section of the monorail and were just chatting about getting fastpasses for Soarin’ when the driver poked his head in and asked if we would like to ride up front! Alex was so excited – this was just the best thing for him. So we got to ride to Epcot in the very front of the monorail right in front of the driver. The driver took this pic of us sitting in the nose of the monorail. He actually took about 3 or 4 pics, but we couldn’t get Katie to look at the camera – she was looking out the front in all the pics!

We also got “monorail co-pilot licenses” from the driver before we got off. We didn’t get an official Magical Moment certificate, but this definitely qualified for Alex – it was one of the highlights of his trip. We also loved how the Epcot monorail swoops through the park before letting you off at the entrance. Kind of nice to get a little preview of the day's attractions.

Once we were in the park, we knew we wanted to head straight for Soarin’. By the time we got there, the wait for standby-by was already 40min. We grabbed some fastpasses for Alex and I (Sean too chicken – Katie too short), and then we all did Living with the Land together. I took a ton of pictures of all the cool veggies and stuff they were growing, but I’m not sure they’d say much to someone who wasn’t there to hear the voice portion of the ride or get a sense for how neat the whole greenhouse area really was. Sean and I both thought it was neat that they were molding some pumpkins into the shape of mickey ears!

After Living with the Land, we went to the nearby Living Seas with Nemo pavilion and rode the new Nemo ride. Basically you ride in a clam shell type cart that takes you through an aquarium of fish. In the aquarium, you’ll also see animated versions of Dory and Marlin and Nemo and other characters from the Nemo movie that appear to be swimming right along with the real fish. Pretty cool effects. I think this was mostly lost on Katie though, she just kept shouting “Nemo, Mama!” and “Dory, Mama!” – but she really enjoyed it. I breathed a little sigh of relief thinking her mood was improving because that crankiness I had described at the beginning of this post was seeming to get worse and worse. This ride was a nice break from that.

Next up was Turtle Talk with Crush. Very funny interactive show, and we really enjoyed it. The line really contributed to to Katie’s crankiness though. When we got in line we thought the next show was starting in the next 5-10 min, and indeed the doors did open and the crowd started into the theater right about 10 min. after we arrived. However, the cast member had not intended to let everyone into the theater – he was going to get a wheelchair for a handicapped guest and somehow the people at the front of the line misunderstood and followed him in and everyone else followed them. Sooo... we had to all back up back into the lobby portion which was hard to do in a huge mass of people. It was also very hard to explain to a 2.5 yr old that yes we are still going to see Crush, we just have to be patient a few minutes more. There were some stingrays in a tank right before the entrance and I barely managed to keep her entertained watching these while we waited a few more minutes. We then had another close call at a meltdown when she saw that many children were being allowed to sit up front. I wasn’t comfortable letting her sit up there by herself (who knows what shenanigans she might pull!) and Alex really didn’t want to sit up there with her. (No grownups allowed up front). So she had to sit with us in the middle of the theater. She was cranky and grumpy and fussed a bit, but she quieted down when the show started and we all enjoyed the show.

About this time I remembered that Katie had not really eaten very well at breakfast time, so I pulled out a cereal bar from her Dora backpack and gave it to Sean. Alex and I were heading back to use our Fastpasses to Soarin’ and he fed it too her while they waited outside for us. The cereal bar kept her busy and from being cranky while we rode. Alex and I really loved Soarin’ – you really do get the sensation that you are flying on a handglider above all the scenes displayed. We were lucky enough to ride in the top row too, so we didn’t have any feet dangling from other riders in our view. We met up with Sean and Katie outside and headed across Future World toward Mission Space and Test Track. Test Track had about a 30min. standby line, but we noticed the single rider lane wait was only 10min. After confirming with Alex that he didn’t mind riding without me, we decided to go that route so that Daddy and Katie wouldn’t have to wait as long for us. It was not meant to be however, we were standing in line for about 5 min. with no movement at all when we heard an announcement the ride was down and would be back up “as soon as possible”. We waited a bit more, but when we heard the announcement again a few moments later, we decided to bail. Instead we did Mission Space which had only a 10 min. standby wait for the “less intense – no spinning” version. I was the navigator and Alex got to be the pilot. It was a lot of fun and somehow we managed to save the mission to Mars and prevent the crash of our spaceship.

When we made it back to Sean and Katie, we agreed that everyone was getting a bit tired (Alex and I had been up the night before until about 12:30a remember!) and it was definitely time for a lunch break. We first went to Sunshine Seasons in the land pavilion to try to order there, but I quickly realized I was too frazzled and tired to decipher how to order items from all the different sections they had. I needed to just be able to walk up to one person and complete our whole order. So we lost about 15 min. deciding this and heading over to Electric Umbrella instead. We were worried that the lunch places would start to fill up since it was now pushing 12noon, but we really didn’t have any trouble ordering and getting our food relatively quickly. Sean and I both had grilled chicken sandwiches, Alex had a hamburger, and Katie had chicken nuggets. It was pretty good, but nothing extraordinary. Katie was again showing signs of the upcoming meltdown by being unusually fussy and actually screaming a bit while I tried to get her to sit nicely at the table and wait for Sean and Alex to bring the food. I chalked it up to her being hungry and did my best to keep her quiet while we waited for the food. She once again refused to eat most of her food except for the fries and Sean and I decided we were going to stop ordering fries for her and/or just let her eat off our plates for the rest of the vacation. A steady diet of only cereal bars and french fries cannot be good for anyone.

We wanted to do Spaceship Earth, but when we got over to the ride, it was closed til Friday! We were so disappointed. It was pushing 1pm and the time we’d normally leave the parks. I don’t know what possessed us with Alex and I being so tired, and Katie already being so cranky to decide to keep going, but we did. Since Ellen’s Universe of Energy was getting ready to start for a 45 min. ride, we decided to do that. She was a little fussy on the ride, but nothing too major, enough that I was slightly embarrassed, but I managed to keep her from really having a fit or meltdown. After the ride, I decided that Katie should have a potty break since she hadn’t gone in about 2-3 hrs. I should mention that this is general battle territory between us anyway, Katie never wants to go to the bathroom unless it is her own idea, and then she wants to do it all herself. That would be all well and good except that when she is in a stimulating environment like Disney, she likely would never decide that now is a good time for a potty break and then we have an accident. She also still needs a little help with the paperwork after she goes, which she is often reluctant to allow. So she pitches an outright fit when I inform her that she must go potty before we can do anymore “fun things”. I finally convince her and we head into the bathroom where she continues to fuss and cry and crank her way through the whole process.

I’m finally starting to wake up to the fact that we should get going, but I’ve convinced Katie to cooperate as much as she has by promising that she can do more “fun things”. Also I really wanted to find the Disney Visa character photo spot in Innoventions West so that we could get our free 5 x 7 photo with one of the characters (free benefit to Disney Visa holders only). So I tell Sean, “Lets just look around Innoventions a bit, get the picture taken, and get going.” He agrees and we head over to Innoventions to find the photo taking spot. We cannot find it, but Sean thinks he knows where it is and leads us over to Innoventions East and we have a bit of a snippy argument cause I know it is in the West building. (Hmmm… who do we sound like? Not that couple from the night before surely!) So we finally get into the West building but I still cannot find it and Katie is whining to get out of her stroller. I decide to ditch the picture taking, let her look at a few things and then we’re getting the heck out of dodge. Sean is annoyed with me for being snippy with him and goes to sit on a bench leaving me to deal with Katie on my own. Silly me is thinking I can control her though one short activity or so and I try to lead Katie and Alex to one of the exhibits. Katie has had enough though, and she just cannot control herself anymore.

She wanted to just run wild from place to place and when I wouldn’t let her she just totally lost her mind. It started as a regular tantrum, and just kept building. First I tried to quiet her right there by saying if she couldn’t calm down we’d have to leave. She only screamed louder and began trying to hit and kick me while I prevented her from running away. Attempting to follow through and take her back to the hotel, I told Sean we were leaving. I struggled and struggled to snap her back into her stroller but she was full on kicking and screaming, hitting and kicking and she clocked me a few times real good in the face in the process. We were making our way to the exit, me trying to carry her, Alex pushing the stroller and Sean, who was still annoyed, trying to follow along and ignore the situation at the same time. I finally had to stop and put her in the stroller because the assault was just too much. It was tough, but Sean finally came to my rescue and held her down while I did the straps. By this time I was so exhausted and stressed that I couldn’t control myself anymore. The tears were just flowing down my cheeks and I didn’t have anyway to stop them. I tried to just get through it, but I was so exhausted. I was trying not to make eye-contact with anyone to avoid them seeing me cry, but I doubt I was very successful, it was pretty obvious to anyone within earshot that a total meltdown was occurring.

Somehow we made it to the monorail and back on it, all the while she was kicking and screaming. I felt so bad for all those around us, who were just trying to go about their good time and had to be subject to her tantrum, but there was just no where to go to where we wouldn’t be bothering someone, so we decided to just get back to the hotel with her ASAP. Once the monorail started moving she was still howling to be let out of the stroller and kicking and screaming. I thought maybe if I let her sit on my lap she’d calm down a bit and give everyone’s ear drums a break. I let her out of the stroller and pulled her onto my lap, and it did calm her for a minute or two, but when she wanted to stand up on the moving monorail I had to restrain her again and the kicking and screaming started all over again. It was so awful! I felt like such a failure – at giving my family a good vacation, at getting along with my husband, at being a considerate member of society, and most of all at being a good mom. Sean tried to help by taking her for a bit but she just kept hitting and screaming and hollering for Mama, and eventually he had to strap her back into the stroller so that at least she wasn’t hurting anyone. Mercifully the monorail stopped at the TTC and I apologized tearfully to the middle-aged couple sharing the monorail car with us. They seemed quite disgusted and didn’t even acknowledge me or my attempt at an apology, which only made the tears flow down my cheeks even harder.

We trekked back to our room through the walkway from the TTC to the Polynesian, all the while her crying and screaming. We passed two cast members who tried to help by calling her “Princess” and talking calmly to her, but we had to politely move on because it was clear that wasn’t going to work. When we got back to our room Sean and I attempted to deal with the tantrum the way we deal with them at home. We put her in a chair and told her she was in time out and as soon as she could calm down we’d talk to her. She just kept on keeping on…After about 15 more minutes of this – her tantruming, us reminding her she could have our attention when she calmed down – she started saying “I don’t wanna go potty!” Neither Sean nor I had mentioned anything about going potty since I had taken her at the park, so that was a big red flag to me that she probably had to go on her own, knew it, but didn’t want to because she was too upset. I tried to take her to the bathroom, but of course that only made her tantrum more. She alternated between saying she did have to go and saying she didn’t. I managed to get her into the bathroom and was putting down the seat (Alex or Sean had left it up) when I turned around and saw her squatting on the bathroom floor just letting it flow right through her clothes. I’m just glad it was in the bathroom on the tile and not on the carpet in the room, but I have to admit to being pretty angry with her because she knew she had to go, and she was right there.

About this time Sean decides he’s had enough of all this and he’s going to take over – clearly, there was a dynamic between Katie and I that was only being fuelled and not being solved. After I cleaned up and dressed a kicking, screaming Katie, he took her in the other room and I stayed in the bathroom while he forced her to stay on the bed. Basically he just kept putting her there everytime she’d get down. Slowly she calmed down, and within 15 min. of my removing myself and Sean taking over she was snoring loudly from the bed. I was so exhausted both from being up late and from all the drama, that after I managed to stop crying I crawled into bed next to her and went to sleep. Sean also went to sleep (it was about 3pm by now!) Alex had left for the hotel pool as soon as we got back to the Polynesian to escape Katie’s tantrum.

We slept until about 4:30 when Alex returned from the pool, and we were all still feeling pretty drained from all the drama. Luckily we had a quiet night planned that evening. Just dinner at Kona (located at the Poly) and maybe catch the water pageant that goes by on Seven Seas lagoon at about 9pm. Dinner at Kona was really yummy, DH ordered the prime rib and I had the crabcakes and the lobster soup off the appetizer menu. All yummy. The kids just had hot dogs of the kid’s menus, but they ate good and realy liked the build-your-own sundaes that came with their meals. Katie was moderately cranky during the meal, but was generally entertained by the crayons and coloring on the kid’s menu. We went to the pool for a bit after dinner, but ended up skipping the water pageant as it was Monday night and Sean and Alex really wanted to watch heros. Ironically, this last picture is one of my favorites of the whole trip and was taken that day after dinner when we decided to walk around the resort and explore a bit.

If you made it through all that – WOW, sorry, didn’t think it would be so long!

Next up more Magic Kingdom, World Showcase, and Beaches and Cream

Monday, May 14, 2007

Disney Day 2 Continued: Extra Magic Hours

After we made it back to the Polynesian we rested a bit more and I got Katie ready for bed ( it was about 7:30 – 8pm). Alex and I got ready again and went out to the Extra Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom. They keep the parks open an additional 3 hours on Sundays for Disney Resort guests only, and this gave us a chance to get out and do all the “big kids rides” that Sean didn’t want to do and Katie was too little to do. Since it was bedtime for Katie anyway and Sean was definitely more the one to want to do less rather than more this worked out great. He and Katie got to go to bed and relax, while Alex and I got some quality time together. Since Katie has been born I’ve noticed Alex really relishing everything the two of us get to do together without Katie, so that was a big perk for him too. No Katie interrupting everything he wanted to do and him having to give in cause she is little and he’s older.

We got to Magic Kingdom just as the 9pm Wishes fireworks show was starting. We got to see some of the fireworks, but our view was too obstructed to really see the show part. Still it was fabulous to be in the cooler part of the evening, it was breezy even, but still warm and watching the fireworks together was wonderful. Once the fireworks were done, we headed for Frontierland where we were told we could get wristbands for the Extra Magic Hours. We didn’t see a line or anyone handing them out so finally we asked a cast member at the Country Bears and he directed us to the Riverboat ride where they were passing out the wristbands. Once we finally got our wristbands we headed back to Frontierland to do Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. We were both nervous and excited for the big drops in Splash. The wait was posted at 20 min. and we decided to go ahead and get in the stand-by line. Glad we did cause the line really only took about 10 min. It was more like a 10 min. walk too, rather than a wait. It probably took about 10 min. to walk all though the queue area and wind around all the barriers, but by the time there were actually people in front of us waiting to ride, we were almost at the ride itself. Once we got on the ride we noticed the people behind us were wearing rain ponchos! Now I knew we’d probably get a little wet, but I wasn’t expecting to get soaked, so that had me a little nervous too. Alex and I ended up in the very front of the ride and the poncho people behind us overheard us saying we’d never been on Splash before. They spent the rest of the ride being obnoxious and commenting to each other how the next drop was “the big one”. We caught on after the first small drop, but it was still annoying. Finally we went over the big drop and I got a good splash right in the face, but I wasn’t too terribly wet. Alex and I decided we liked it, we were glad we did it, but there was no need to repeat this ride – onto Big Thunder!

Same deal on the wait at Big Thunder as at Splash, the wait was really a walk on and Alex and I really loved this ride. I spent the entire ride holding onto my glasses to make sure they didn’t fly off, but not wanting to remove them because that would really ruin it for me if I couldn’t see clearly. There is an announcement at the beginning of every ride that includes a safety spiel about not standing, keeping your arms in, etc. This spiel also says something like, “and Watch Your Children!”. I spent the rest of the night kidding Alex that I was watching my children and giving him the evil eye. We liked Big Thunder so much and the wait was so little that we got right back in line and rode it again. Fabulous! I tried to convince Alex to do Pirates of the Caribbean or Haunted Mansion before going over to Space Mountain, but he felt it was too spooky to do those rides at nighttime after dark.

About this time we decided we wanted some ice cream. We knew we had seen people walking around with it before, but now we couldn’t seem to find a place open that had ice cream (only some of the shops and restaurants stay open for the extra magic hours). Finally we asked a cast member at Sleepy Hollow if she knew where in the park we could get some ice cream. She directed us to the Sunshine Tree Terrace – but when we got there it was closed. ARGH. We trucked back to the Sleepy Hollow and ordered the Ice Cream Cookie sandwich for Alex ( we had been looking for just a dish of ice cream) and I ordered the Tinkerbell Twist slushy. Now, when we ordered the ice cream cookie sandwich for Alex, I was expecting the kind you can buy 6 in a box at the grocery store – the cookies a little smaller than the palm of your hand, and the ice cream perfectly cut by machine to fit between the cookies. This thing was huge, and it was real scoop out of the bucket ice cream mushed in between there. He let me have a bite and it was yummy. My Tinkerbell Twist was sour apple and watermelon flavors and was quite good. I ended up not being able to finish it though – it was just too rich and sour at the same time to enjoy that large a portion of it and since Alex was full from the cookie I’m afraid the last 25% went in the trash.

With our appetites quieted down we headed over to Tomorrowland and Space Mountain. This was Alex’s favorite ride of the whole trip. Me – not so much. It is a great roller coaster and fun, but I think my bones are just getting too old to withstand so much jerking around. Of course it was about 10:30 – 11pm at the end of a very full day, so maybe I’d enjoy it more if I wasn’t so tired. This was also about the time I noticed a blister forming on the ball of one foot, so I was definitely starting to feel a little ragged around the edges. Although Alex wanted to do Space Mountain again, he took pity on his poor ole ma, and instead we did the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger ride. This one was fun, and Alex way outscored me even though I did manage to somehow score 5,000 with one shot (not even sure how I did that, which is probably why my score wasn’t much higher in the end). I think my ending score was something like 11,000 – Alex’s was in the 25,000 ballpark. After Buzz it was raining a little, but I noticed the Indy Cars were open and remembered that Alex had wanted to do them that morning and we had passed them by because the lines were too long. We rode the Indy Cars and agreed that yes, Alex will really have to wait until he is 16 to get that driver’s license - and he needs a lot of practice, with supervision, on a simulator, away from real people!! But it was fun anyway. After Indy Cars it was 11:50p and the park was going to close in 10 min. so we headed back out to the monorail and back to the Polynesian. When we got back to our room we quietly changed into our pjs and slipped into bed so as not to wake Daddy and Katie. A really great night for us!

Up next, Epcot and the Great Katie Meltdown.

Disney Day 2: Magic Kingdom and the Hoop Dee Doo

Before we left for our trip, DH was pretty dismayed to learn that I planned for us to be at that day’s park for the official opening each day. He wanted to sleep in on his vacation. While, I understand that, going to Disney is just not that type of vacation – unless you want to stand in line and do 2 attractions in 3 hours in the heat of the day. By mid-morning of the first full day I had converted him to my way of thinking. (Not that I’m a genius or anything – I just obsessively researched and read online about Disney and the parks and this was the number one tip.) The lines were less first thing, and tended to build by mid-late morning, which is when we ate lunch (lunch places weren’t busy yet cause people were still arriving). We did one or two less popular attractions then after lunch, having seen the “headliners” first thing and then headed back to our hotel for a swim and rest/nap to avoid the busiest and hottest part of each day. This strategy worked out perfectly for us, and it turned out DH was just as happy with the afternoon nap as he would have been sleeping in – so all was well. We then did some more park/activity stuff late afternoon into evening and although we tried to make the evening fireworks/laser shows, we found that they were just too late for us with Katie. That will leave us something for next trip when she is older though.

So Day 2 – our first full day. We get up at 7am, leave the room at 8:15am and arrive at the Magic Kingdom about 8:40am. Gotta love that monorail. We also brought pop tarts, cold cereals, crackers and other various snacks in one suitcase, so we ate breakfast from that all week long and avoided paying the expensive breakfast prices at the resort and the parks.

We got to see Mickey Mouse, Goofy and I think Pluto come out on the train and open the park. Katie was very excited and kept waving at Mickey and saying “Hi Mickey”. Very cute. We went straight for Fantasyland to ride Dumbo first. Since Dumbo has no fastpass and the line is mostly in the sun, we wanted it out of the way first. I read a touring plan online somewhere that said to do Dumbo first, get a Fastpass for Peter Pan, then do Winnie Pooh. That is what we did and it worked out perfectly. We had about a 10 min. wait for Dumbo, got our fastpasses that had 10:30 return time for Peter Pan, then did Winnie Pooh, Snow White, Carousel, Philharmagic. It’s a Small World before getting back to Peter Pan for the return time. I had wanted to take Katie to see Ariel at this time when the line opened at 10am – but somewhere in there we got wrapped up in the other rides and now the line was pretty long. Since I hadn’t mentioned it to Katie and she was too young to really catch onto or see the line herself we just didn’t mention it and she had fun doing other things. I really wanted to take a picture of Katie and Alex flying on the Dumbo ride together, but since DH wouldn’t ride with us (told you he was a big chicken!) we all ended up riding in one car and I couldn’t ride in front of them to take the photo. I settled for taking this photo of them before take-off. (Gotta credit Erin for giving me the tip about taking the Dumbo photo – I think it turned out nice even though it isn’t airborne.) By the way, I sort of had to trick DH onto Peter Pan’s Flight. I told him it was like the Pooh ride, ride in a cart and see scenes from the movie/story. This was sort of true, but you are in a flying boat type thing and everything is below you. DH would not have rode had he known that heights were involved, but afterward he said he had fun and was glad he rode. It was done in a way that the heights weren’t really scary, but had I explained it that way to Sean, he would have refused to go.

We ate lunch at Pinnochios Village Haus (another great tip from Erin!) and the food was pretty good. I had chicken strips and DH had some type of sandwich (cannot remember now, but he liked it). Alex had chicken strips too which we both enjoyed. I was sorta disappointed in the kids menu choices though – there was just mac n cheese and peanut butter and jelly to choose from. We ordered the mac n cheese for Katie and she ate a little of it, but not much (she is used to the out of the box kind, and this was probably better, but just not what she is used to).

After lunch we did the Mad Tea Cups, and then Alex and Sean really wanted to do the Indy Cars, but the line was pretty long, so we headed over to Liberty Square where we had just missed the next showing for the Hall of Presidents and the next trip of the Riverboat. Since they only run each half hour we didn’t want to just sit that long and we headed over to the Country Bear Jamboree and did that. After the Country Bears, we were pretty pooped, and since we had just missed the next showing of the Hall of Presidents and the Riverboat again, we decided to head back to the hotel.

Nap time was supposed to be for both Sean and Katie, but it turned out to be mostly for Sean. Katie just would not lie down and go to sleep in a hotel room with other people awake in the room. We tried having me and Alex go to the pool while Sean and she napped, but she just ended up keeping Sean from taking his nap, so Alex and I ended up taking her to the pool with us. This contributed a lot to us missing the fireworks shows at night since Katie was more tired at the end of the days with no nap. Anyway, we had a lot of fun playing in the hotel pool and Katie especially liked the sprinklers they had off to the side for the kids to run and play in.

At about 4pm we decided it was time to head to our 5pm dinner reservation at the Hoop Dee Doo at the Fort Wilderness Resort. All the stuff I’d read advised leaving about an hour before any reservation if you are taking Disney transportation. I couldn’t imagine it taking that long since we were on the monorail and Fort Wilderness was not far from the Magic Kingdom, but we left at 4pm anyway just to be safe. Good thing we did! Right at about 4 the skies opened up and just poured and poured! The monorail actually waited about 10 min after we loaded onto it to wait for the rain to let up a bit before heading out. Not sure how hard rain would be bad for a train on a rail that cannot be derailed, but I think I’m safe in assuming those operating the thing know more about that than I do. Finally we take off for the Magic Kingdom and deboard there. We had packed cheap dollar ponchos from Walmart in Katie’s Dora backpack (don’t laugh!) and we each put one on and covered Katie and her stroller with one. (she had fallen asleep – go figure!). We ran over to the ferry for Fort Wilderness only to realize the boat was just leaving and we’d have to wait for the next one. By the time we boarded the next boat it was only drizzling, but it was already 4:45p and Katie was awake and slightly cranky. Since the fery makes a stop at Wilderness Lodge, before going to Fort Wilderness we were about 10 min. late for our reservation. It turned out to be no big deal though – we were shown directly to our table and the show hadn’t begun yet.

Oh My Gosh! The Hoop Dee Doo was so much fun! Now, it is expensive, but I really felt it was worth it. It was all you can eat fried chicken, ribs, corn, cornbread, salad, soda, milk, baked beans, beer, chardonnay, sangria, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Not gourmet, but very yummy and filling. The pic above was taken by our server on our camera - it was sorta dark, but I think the pic is still clear enough to see us. The show was a lot of corny, slap-stick, type of humor, but Alex and Sean really love that sort of thing and this show was definitely one of those moments where I could look around to each member of my family and really see that they were having an awesome time. Alex laughed until there were tears streaming down his face. We were in the cheaper balcony seats, but we saw every last bit of the show and didn’t feel that took away from the experience at all! We left there stuffed and happy and giggling to ourselves over the jokes we liked best. I also remember seeing another family in front of us in line for the boat back to Magic Kingdom that were definitely not having a blast. I don’t think they were at the show but perhaps had stayed at Fort Wilderness and were heading out to Magic Kingdom?? In any case the parents were snapping at each other over what to do next and how long the last thing had taken. Sean and I were so glad that wasn’t us. There were several things we’d planned to do, but had skipped cause things just take longer than you think they will and you have to just prioritize the things you want to do most and then anything extra is gravy. I think this family was trying to do everything and not enjoying the things they were able to do because they were upset about what they weren’t getting to. Of course, we probably just caught this family at a bad moment, we were still early enough into our trip that we hadn’t had any big upsets yet, and we had the audacity to feel just a little bit superior. Don’t worry, we were brought down a peg or two the next day when Katie decided to let her inner demon child shine out, but I digress.

Next up – Extra Magic Hours

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Disney Day 1: MGM

We are back! We had a great time, but there were definitely a few meltdown moments courtesy of our resident demon-child - uh I mean - almost 3 yr. old. If I have the stamina to relive them, you'll get to hear all about them.

Our flight left Milwaukee at 7:30a uneventfully and landed in Orlando as scheduled at 11:05am (would have been 10:05am for us, we lost an hour due to the different time zones). Katie was a little cranky mid-flight, but otherwise did pretty well. Thank goodness for the snack and drink the stewardesses pass out - that was just enough to keep her entertained enough to avoid a real meltdown. We used Disney Magical Express which meant that we just checked our baggage in Milwaukee and it arrived at our hotel, Disney picks it up at baggage claim for you and takes it to your room. They also put you on a bus and take you to your resort. This worked pretty efficiently considering how many people are moved through the system each day - and the service was great - everyone was really nice. It did take about an hour and a half though from touchdown until we were in our hotel room- time would be the major drawback - but for Sean and I who both hate driving in unfamiliar territory with a cranky kid (make that 2 cranky kids - Alex was kinda tired too) it was actually kind of nice to just surrender to the process and let Disney worry about it and we'd get there when we got there.

So we arrived at the Polynesian Resort on Disney property at about 12:30p. Our luggage didn't show up til sometime later in the afternoon - but we were told to expect that and had brought what we needed to go to the parks in our carryons. We stayed in room 1924 which was just an ordinary garden view room, but it was awesome! I think I am so spoiled after staying at the Polynesian that if/when we ever go back to Disney, I likely won't want to stay anywhere else. The hotel itself is nice but nothing that can really compete with big top notch places (not like I've ever stayed anywhere top notch - but this is just nice - not WOW in that respect). What made the Polynesian so great was the location/transportation. We were right on the resort monorail, so getting to the Magic Kingdom was just 10 min. each way - to go to Epcot we walked about 10 min. to the Transportation and Ticket Center and rode the monorail from there (about another 15 min.) - getting around to the parks was so easy on the Disney transportation - I'm so glad we didn't rent a car! It saved us the money and was much less stressful for us. We did have to take buses to MGM and Animal Kingdom, but since we spent the majority of our time at Magic Kingdom and Epcot, that wasn't too bad. Staying at another Disney property from which we'd have to take all buses would make the Disney transportation much less desirable, I'm afraid.

R2D2 in the parade

After we arrived at the Poly we had planned to go to MGM for the rest of the day. After a quick lunch at Captain Cooks (the turkey sandwich with bacon on multi-grain bread was really good!), we arrived at MGM about 3pm. The parade was just starting, and although I snapped a few pics, none turned out really good cause we didn't really have the best view for picture taking. Katie and Alex enjoyed the parade though - but it was HOT. Well, those of you used to the Florida weather will probably not think so - it was about 89 F - and felt really humid.
Katie and Alex waiting for the Muppets show

We managed to do Muppets 3D (we all loved it!) Star Tours (just me and Alex - Sean didn't want to do it, even though the wait was only 10 min. and we could have easily waited for him and Alex to go again - Sean is a bit of a chicken when it comes to rides - anyway Alex and I really liked it.), The Great Movie Ride (even Katie did well - I knew when the Alien part was coming so I was able to distract her and she was oblivious to the scarey parts then), and the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Sometime during our wait for the mermaid show we decided to just do our dinner reservation and head back to the hotel. We had originally planned to stay for Fantasmic! but after our traveling and the heat - we were beat. Katie fell asleep during the Mermaid show, and she normally just loves Ariel, so that sort of clinched it for us - we were skipping Fantasmic.

We headed to our 6:30p reservation at the Sci-Fi dine in theater and were seated about 15 min after check-in (10 min after our reserved time). It seemed everyone but us was on the Disney dinning plan, but they don't let you do that on the land and sea package, so we were paying for all food out of pocket. I didn't mind though cause it kept us from over eating and we were able to share portions several times on the trip and spent far less than we would have on the dining plan. At Sci-Fi, Sean and I split an adult cheeseburger and fries and each ordered a milkshake (choc for me, strawberry for him) The kids each ordered a kids hamburger and Alex ordered an Oreo milkshake. The milkshakes were really yummy! We were sort of surprised that the kids hamburgers seemed to be the same size as ours! It worked out though cause Katie would only munch on the fries, so DH and I split her burger too and actually got a full burger each that way.

Then it happened - Katie must have been more exhausted from the heat and travel than I thought cause suddenly she was whining and had that look that every mother extinctively knows means that her kid is going to toss his/her cookies right now. And she did. Luckily her plate was bowl shaped on the bottom and we caught every last drop there. I felt terrible, both for pushing her so hard she got sick, and for the poor waitstaff person that had to clean the mess. At least I kept it contained for her and we tipped very well. The waitress was very nice about it though, and Katie hadn't really acted sick before that, just tired.

We went back to our hotel, and Alex and I went for a little swim and watched Wishes (the fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom) from the pool at the Polynesian. Another great plus for the Polynesian's awesome location.

I'll try to write more tomorrow - Day 2 was the Magic Kingdom and the Hoop Dee Doo! :)

Friday, May 04, 2007

One Last Dance Before I go!

Happy Dance that is! Finally this blanket is done - well the stitching is done. Still have to do the finishing, but that will have to wait til we return from our trip. :)

We are also having new doors installed today - so if I get a chance I'll post some pictures of the new door later today. We'll see though cause our toilet handle broke this morning, making flushing impossible on the upstairs toilet. Luckily we do have a basement bathroom too, so we can use a bathroom. Why does stuff like this always happen when you are about to go on vacation? Looks relatively easy to fix though, just buy a new handle that should connect through the back of the toilet to the little arm thing that pulls up the stopper in the bottom. Just one more errand for me to run today! Yikes.

I also have to finish the laundry, finish the packing (mostly done except for items from the laundry), and mow the lawn. DH is really frustrating me, cause I know he doesnt have enough clean clothes and underwear to bring and I've offered to do some laundry for him during the day today (he's working - I'm off) so that it'll be ready to pack when he gets home. He just keeps saying he doesn't have time to get the laundry together for me - so now he has to do it himself when he gets home and then pack after that. Considering we are leaving at 5am tomorrow morning, this is starting to stress me a bit that he isn't packed AT ALL. He cut the tags off his luggage last night and had the nerve to tell me how good he's doing getting ready and expected me to say how good that was! *sigh* I hate how he always leaves everything to the last minute!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Running in Place

That is how I feel these days, running and running to try to get things done, but nothing is actually done! I have most things ready for our trip, but keep remembering this or that to buy/do. Last night I started the packing – not actually putting things in the suitcases yet, but just sorting through the kids summer outfits. Since we are in Wisconsin, they haven’t seen the light of day since September and I needed to take some inventory. I normally buy them clothes for the next years season at the clearance sales from the previous year, so I was expecting I’d be all set. Katie does indeed have 9 pairs of shorts and 9 short sleeve tops, but no matter how I mix and match them, she does not have 9 outfits that she can wear. Not to mention that I’d like to have 2 or 3 extra outfits for her since she is still relatively newly potty-trained and an accident isn’t entirely out of the question. And of course almost-3-yr-olds never, ever mess up their clothes and need to be changed multiple times in one day, right? HA! Anyway, I ended up making a run to Kohl’s last night to get her a few more tops and one more pair of shorts. The tops will match the shorts that didn’t match anything else and the shorts I got her were ordinary jean shorts that will match any top she has. (BTW, Kohl’s has these really cute solid and print separates –shirts and shorts – 2 for $9 right now – with my Kohl’s charge 15% off on top of that, I got a really good deal!)

Tonight after work I need to run to the grocery store to buy toothpaste and paper plates. I also need to clean the house because we are having new doors installed the day before we leave on the trip. I know that sounds like a dumb time to schedule it, but this way I only need to take one day off of work to both do all the final prep work/laundry/packing/mow lawn AND be there when the installation guy comes.

My stitching is really starting to take a back seat. I am working on the very last square for Katie’s blanket and although I really want to finish it – it seems to be taking forever. Last night I thought I was finally going to get some good time in on it and my sister called to chat about our trip plans and wish us well. Nice of her, and I enjoyed it, but now I’m further behind! J I do have that last square almost complete though, and part of it is that I picked sort of a large and solidly stitched pattern for that last block. So it is really my own fault. Anyway – cross your fingers for me that I can happy dance that blanket before I leave on my trip!