Friday, January 30, 2009


Yeehaw, we're in Disney World! The car trip I'd been dreading was fantastic! We got incredibly lucky with the weather and hit no snow, ice or even rain. The kids were perfectly content watching DVDs and playing DS games. They were really good. If they fought I don't remember it! We stopped at Ruby Falls in Chattanooga and did the cave tour on Saturday afternoon. We then drove on to Valdosta, Georgia, where we spent the night and arrived at our Disney resort around 11:30am Sunday. The last hour and a half of the drive was by far the worst for me- I was way too excited to get here!

Until yesterday (Thursday) the weather was great. It's been sunny and in the upper 70s/lower 80s the entire time. Yesterday it was in the 70s, but started raining ~3pm and hasn't stopped yet. Today's high is only in the 50s and it's supposed to keep raining... We're planning on going to Magic Kingdom but I'm not exactly sure what we'll do if the rain keeps up. The kids have gotten to swim almost every day. It was warm enough yesterday, but there was no way "I" was going to stand out in the rain to watch them!

For the most part, the parks haven't been very crowded. Epcot felt empty on Monday and Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear were walk-ons all afternoon Wednesday. Animal Kingdom's trails always feel crowded, but it wasn't too claustrophobic on Tuesday. Crowds are expected to pick up over this weekend due to the Super Bowl being in Tampa, but I'm not too concerned. We'll see.

Logan's finally tall enough for everything except Rock 'n Roller Coaster, so we've tried some new stuff this trip. Monday it was Mission:Space at Epcot. It's a rocket to Mars simulator. We all loved it except Kaylin. Tuesday it was the Expedition Everest roller coaster at Animal Kingdom. I had been DREADING this one, but ended up LOVING it! Kaylin went on it once and hated it! Logan and I went six times and plan to go as many times as we can when we return on Saturday! It's my new favorite ride at Disney! Logan finally got to ride Space Mountain for the first time on Wednesday. Between Gene and me he rode five times. Kaylin rode once and opted out of the rest :) I was proud of her for trying after how much she hated Everest! Yesterday we tried Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios. Finally a universal hit! This ride was a blast! You wear 3D glasses and play several different carnival games while riding around in a car with a (uh) blaster thingy you use to pop balloons, toss rings over aliens, break plates, etc. It keeps score and is So. Much. Fun. We only got to go twice because it was so popular and the wait was extreme.

This has been a very different Disney trip than we've had before. This time around, rides majorly outweigh characters. Kaylin and I waited 45 minutes to see Tinker Bell and another fairy (Iridessa?) but otherwise we haven't waited to see anyone! We've been at Disney five days and haven't seen Mickey Mouse! It's really nice to not have spend half the day waiting in line for characters. That was a fun phase, but I'm glad it's over. I spent twelve bucks on a Tinker Bell autograph book for Kaylin that only holds 20 autographs and I don't know if we'll fill it. In previous trips, we've collected more than 60 different autographs each time! Oh, and we have ALWAYS started out in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom? This trip we have yet to ride ANYTHING in Fantasyland. Wait, I take that back- Kaylin and I took Tommy on the teacups.

Having my entire family along has been nothing like I'd expected. We've gone to the same park every day, but we don't spend much time together. The kids are into such different things... We've eaten several meals either all together or some of us together. The kids have gotten to play together for at least a little while every day, which they have LOVED. I think overall it has worked out really well and has been fun for everyone.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Counting down the hours...

Yeeeessssssssssssssss!!!! I just have to get through today at work and I'm on vacation for FOURTEEN days! Wooohooooooo! My boss needed me to work my old string today and get body image pictures of the tigers so I will get to work outside (and with my beloved tigers) on a day that's supposed to be sunny and 40 degrees. (Which incidentally, is warmer than it is in Orlando at the moment.) Can you tell I'm excited???

Tomorrow Gene and the kids go to work/school while I pack the bags and the van. When Gene gets home (4ish, I hope) we'll pick up the kids and head out! I have no idea how long we'll drive, where we'll stay, etc. I just hope to make it out of Illinois :) The weather forecast is good, at least for the drive down and our first several days at Disney World. I'm sure I think this before EVERY vacation, but I've never needed a vacation so badly! I might possibly miss the rhinos, but I will NOT miss pulling 100 pounds of poop out of their drains every day!

The kids are crazy with excitement. Logan won't talk about the trip because it makes him too upset that we aren't leaving RIGHT NOW. Kaylin won't shut up about it. Ack! How will I make it through my work day?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Colleen and I spent the entire week at work talking about going to lunch at One World on Friday. Mmmmm. I was sooo looking forward to it! Then school was cancelled due to the cold. Oh well, we'll just go on Saturday instead. Sure, no problem!!!

Saturday I had a vet appointment for Brady-dog at 11:30am. He needed his annual vaccines and had been limping badly for a week or so. The vet took one look at Brady and said "Suze, he blew out his other knee." Back when Brady was three, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, probably while jumping for frisbees. The same vet (this is the one I worked for for six years) performed a major surgery on his right knee and said his other knee would go out "probably sooner than later." NINE years later... Anyway, the vet said there's no way he'd do this surgery on such an old dog (long, hard surgery, long, hard recovery- especially for a big dog.) So, he put Brady on arthritis meds for the rest of his life, patted him and hinted that the next time he saw him would be the "final visit."

It was obviously not a happy vet visit, but I still had my One World lunch to look forward to, right? Right? I dropped the dog off at home and immediately left to pick up Colleen. We wanted to watch a little of an exercise class at the Riverplex before actually attending. The class ended at 1pm and we made it just in time to watch at about 12:45! The class was called Body Jam and we realized within seconds it was far beyond our skill level :) Well, at least mine! It requires dancing ability. Um, no. We spotted my dad working out (this becomes important later) so stopped and said hi before going to the sales desk to sign a paper I HAD to sign asap, but ONLY was able to sign during sales hours. I, of course, am NEVER there during sales hours.

We walked up to the sales desk just as the sales lady was leaving on a facility tour. She'll be back in ten minutes. Ugh. We're STARVING, but if I don't sign the paper, I won't have another chance before I get back from vacation and that may mean my dad (we are "couples" members together) will be denied access to work out. We HAVE to wait. FINALLY, sales lady returns and looks up my file. I don't need to sign anything, they just need an "in case of emergency" phone number in my file. I give it and we jump with joy that we are FINALLY going to lunch!

As we approach my car, I notice the rear, driver's side tire is flat as a pancake. Ugh. We're starving. Oooh, I have a can of Fix-A-Flat! Oooh, it is frozen solid. Colleen walks back into the building to get a park district police officer to help us while I unload my spare tire and all the tools. The cop easily removes the lugs, but can't remove the wheel. He goes to find a crowbar. Meanwhile a guy driving a snow plow comes to help. (Colleen's in the bathroom trying to thaw the Fix-A-Flat with the hand dryer and/or water.) Mr. Plow lays on the ground and pounds my wheel with a hammer. It doesn't budge, but he's DETERMINED. Bang. Bang. Bang. He finally gives up just as the cop returns with the crowbar. The cop has no luck. Now my dad comes to his car and gets in on the action. He also produces a frozen can of Fix-A-Flat. He then offers to go to Wal-Mart (right across the river) for more. The very nice cop puts the lugs back onto the tire and helps put away all the tools. Colleen and I sit in the car for hours and hours (ok, not really) waiting for my dad to return.

WOOOHOOOOOOO, Dad is back! We fill the tire and are FINALLY headed to One World. We are so hungry and cold we just sit and whine until our food comes. At 3pm, we eat. We sat at One World until 4:30 when Gene and the kids showed up to escort us to Wal-Mart to have the tire repaired. Thank goodness my dad bought TWO cans of Fix-A-Flat because my tire was flat again. I made it to Wal-Mart and we all hopped into the van to take Colleen home. I picked her up at 12:30 to "quick drop by the Riverplex" and have lunch. I dropped her off at 5:30pm.

Ironically, I had gone to Super Wal-Mart for groceries early in the morning and bumped into a former vet's office coworker who was on her way to work and made my vet appointment for a few hours later. I then just happened to find a Wii Fit (I've been looking for months) and both of my favorite flavors of soda were stocked! I thought to myself "Wow, this is my lucky day!!!"

Thursday, January 15, 2009


My new picture is me with Harris the rhino. Harris loves attention and has even rolled over onto his back so I could rub his belly. Harris is my favorite of the new African animals (followed closely by Luxor the lion and the giraffe boys. Uh, and the red river hogs and Hogan the zebra...)

I'm bitter about the bitter cold that has taken the last kid-free day before our vacation away from me. (sob) I really wanted to get a LOT of stuff done Friday, but instead will spend the day with four kids screaming and trashing my house. Gene worked from home today so I "got" to work all day. School was cancelled two days this week- the same week my vacation request for the last day of school and the following week was approved. I HOPE they'll only have to make up one of the days. Eh, they can miss their last hour-long day of school.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

shopping weekend

My weekend was a nightmare of shopping. It suddenly occurred to me that our vacation is quickly approaching and that the kids both needed new shoes and lightweight jackets. I took Logan to Wal-Mart with me first thing in the morning hoping to get all of his purchases out of the way. Nope. They had NOTHING his little heart desired. We instead got groceries and returned home. After lunch we all went out to Shoe Carnival. Kaylin tried on Sketchers and Reeboks and Nikes and LA Gear. She tried different sizes and widths, but NOTHING felt good on her wide little feet. Logan tried on a couple pairs of heavily advertised Z-straps and fell in love. He SAYS they feel great, but I have a feeling that his feet could be bloody stumps of blisters and he'd still be running around, thrilled to have the awesome tv shoes. Whatever. At least he has a couple weeks to break them in.

Both kids also needed new Crocs. The official brand has TERRIBLE sizing for kids. I bought both kids new Disney Crocs for Christmas and they were too small. (Fortunately, they were on major clearance and Kaylin's will soon fit Logan and Logan's will soon fit the little boy next door, so not a huge waste of $$. At least MINE fit fine :) Anyway, Payless has fake Crocs that come in a larger range of sizes so we stopped there. Wooohoooooo, their Crocs were on sale for $5 a pair! Kaylin got two pairs and Logan one. A successful stop!

On to Old Navy for jackets. Another success! Well, a partial success since Kaylin's jacket is light yellow. All of her clothes SHOULD be a swirly mix of dark colors to hide stains. Everything was on clearance at Old Navy and even Gene found himself a new jacket!

We were waiting in line behind our neighbor who is a teacher in our school district. I've been dreading sending the notes to the kids' teachers about our long vacation so I asked her what she thought the reaction would be. She glared at me like I just ran over her puppy and said "Well, there's nothing they can DO about it, but they won't be happy. It won't be too big a deal for Logan's teacher since kindergarten only grades with S's and U's, but it will be a major pain for Kaylin's teacher." She went on about how Mrs. J will have to really go out of her way to make sure Kaylin makes up all of her grades and how we should probably bring her a present. A really nice present. Uh, ok. She then realized she was practically going off on me in the Old Navy line and laughed and apologized for being so harsh. I was laughing because that was what I WANTED to know. Now I can tailor my notes accordingly... Yikes!

I finally decided that Kaylin can just wear Crocs at Disney World- she will anyway, so the only thing left to buy was a 2009 White Sox calendar for Gene. The "calendar store" at the mall also sold toys and games and everything in the entire store was 50% off. Logan has been hoarding money since at least his birthday. He was up to $63 and absolutely refused to spend a penny of it. He plays with the money, counts it and even smells it on a daily basis. Last night he actually parted with a little of it! The store had a squishy, liquid-filled ball surrounded by a permanent net. When you squeeze the ball, little round "pustules" pop out through the net. Logan plunked down TWO BUCKS for that ball and had no buyer's remorse!

I am sooooo done with shopping! The only other thing I want to buy that I can't just pick up at Wal-Mart is a lap desk for the kids for the car. I have seen countless lap desks over the years, but now that I need one, they apparently no longer exist. Any ideas? Anyone?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mid-January first post of 2009

2009 is apparently my year of blog slacking. Since my previous entry, the kids and Gene have gone back to school and work. I've worked every Sunday through Thursday, but nothing particularly interesting or exciting has happened. I've spent most of my spare time researching Disney World and other Orlando-area locations. Ooh, I did find out that my brother Andy is going to be able to take off work to come to Disney! That means my entire family will be there! We (the 4 of us) are leaving two weeks from YESTERDAY!!! Wooohoooooooooooo!

Yesterday I spent five very long hours shopping for Tinker Bell gifts and other junk we need for our trip. I spent most of my time at Dollar Tree, the Dollar Spot at Target and the toy clearance aisles at Target, Wal-Mart and Kmart, but also went to (gasp) the mall. (Oh, I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but while we're at Disney, Tink leaves a small gift tooth fairy style if the kids were good the day before. It's a cheap trick that works wonders for behavior AND cuts down on the gimmes at the bajillion gift shops.) I scored all kinds of Disney-themed small toys, stickers, notepads, markers, etc. for a buck apiece. I then scored a couple of "major" toys for Kaylin on super-clearance at JC Penney!

Kaylin's favorite character is Tink (duh, because she brings presents!) and she has an online subscription to something (I think) called Pixie Hollow. The idea seems similar to Webkinz in that you play games to earn money to outfit your Pixie world. The characters are Tinker Bell and all of her pixie friends. There are some insanely expensive (as well as cheap-looking and ugly) toys that go along with this game. I refused to buy any of them for Christmas because they looked like expensive junk. Anyway, at JC Penney, I found the hideous jewelry box starter set for $12, marked down from $89.99! Score! I'm not exactly sure what it does, but I do know it plugs directly into your computer and scans the hideous charms you can add on to your gumball machine-looking necklace that comes with the starter set. I also scored a handheld game that can be played "anytime," plugged into your computer and the points earned are converted to pixie dollars and added to your online fund. Again, this game looks crappy, with horrible graphics. I paid $6. It was originally marked $49.99. Yes.

I didn't find anything similarly impressive for Logan. I'm going to keep looking for a handheld game for him because that would be the one Tink gift that could cause major jealousy- if Kaylin gets a video game and Logan gets a sheet of Toy Story stickers that's NOT gonna fly! He won't care two hoots about the jewelry box... Logan has been much harder to shop for because he doesn't like all of the abundant Disney-themed stationary and lip gloss. I wish we still had our Disney Store at the mall. Oh well, worst case scenario, I'll buy him a couple things at the resort gift shop. (And is that scenario even bad in any way???)

I've been really excited about the thought of driving this trip. It seemed like such a fun and exciting idea, to be able to show the kids the mountains and to stop at interesting places along the way. Now that the trip is approaching and reality is setting in, I am realizing that I'm a complete idiot. HOW will it be FUN to drive 18+ hours with the kids??? How??? Gene's already moaning and groaning about the MESS they're going to make in his beloved van. (I suppose it doesn't help that I keep finding the messiest-looking candy and snacks and asking him if we should buy it for the trip. Hee hee, teasing Gene is fun.)

Well, I better log off and get busy writing my letters to the kids' teachers. I don't think anyone at school will be impressed that we're taking two weeks off. Oh well.