Family

Day Five at Disney – Epcot

When we got home from The Magic Kingdom the night before, I had a voice mail at the lodge that made me VERY happy. My dad got us reservations for the character dinner at Chef Mickey’s!!! I had tried before we left and while in WDW to no avail. It’s a very popular experience, evidently. But my dad got us 6:35pm dinner reservations on our 5th day in WDW.

I’m sad to say that Epcot did not get the attention it deserved. In my defense, I did not know it needed said attention until it was too late to do anything about it. From my perspective, Epcot did not offer too much to interest my 8 yr old, just a ton of walking and things for adults to look at.

After breakfast, I took our clothes to the laundromat in the lodge and washed some things we needed for our last 2 days (the things we’d been wearing everyday). Since World Showcase in Epcot did not open until 11am, I knew the front part of the park was going to be crowded in the morning, so I was in no rush to get to the park first thing.

The only 2 things the hubs wanted to do in WDW was to get on Test Track and Soarin’ in Epcot. We went straight to Soarin’ upon entering the park and got Fast Passes that were not good for another 2 ¼ hours. So we went and stood in line for Test Track for 45 minutes. That was a cool ride. We ate lunch afterwards, road through the Disney greenhouse and then went on Soarin’. That was a little too realistic for me and I was scared a couple of times but it is a fabulous ride (I tried not to say amazing again).

The only other thing we wanted to do in Epcot was for B to go on a Kim Possible Mission. The hubs’ knees were hurting from all the walking that week, so he decided to rest in the UK’s pub while B, my brother and I went in search of a Kim Possible station. We only had time for him to do 2 missions – one in the UK and the other in France – but they were so much fun! B got a cell phone from the KP station and that was his “communicator”. He received his missions via videos and text messages on that phone and went all over each “country” doing little missions and gathering clues to help Kim catch the bad guys.

For example, B went into a phone booth in the UK, entered a code and a golf ball came rolling out. He had to find the right store to take that golf ball to, find the ball washer and put it inside to be “analyzed”. Turns out the ball contained GPS info on the bad guy to help us track him to his lair. In France, B and I had to find and then position ourselves in front of a particular awning, look up at the Eiffel Tower and enter a code into the communicator. Evidently there was a camera on top of the tower that took our picture and sent it to the communicator for us to view. B was so funny as a spy, ducking here and there, hiding behind things, pressing himself up against walls and peeking around corners. At one point, we could not find a street we needed and he had to ask a cast member for directions. Oh, the story he made up for why he needed to find that street so they didn’t figure out that he was on a secret mission was hysterical! He took his missions VERY seriously. LOL! The hubs was very sorry he missed these missions after B described in painstaking detail everything he did.

That was all we got to do before it was time to leave Epcot and head to the Contemporary Resort for our Chef Mickey dinner. But we will definitely plan more time for Epcot if we get back. We took the famous WDW monorail to the Contemporary Resort! :o) We checked in and they called us back to the inner-waiting area where we got some family pictures taken with a Chef Mickey statue. Later we were taken to our table, our waiter took our drink order and we were free to help ourselves to the buffet. Preparing for this trip, I was looking forward to eating WDW’s world-renowned food. Then we got there and I found that everything is cooked with a soybean/olive oil combination and I am allergic to olive oil! :o( I had been eating plain meat without any fat or seasonings and plain, steamed veggies all week. The food at the Chef Mickey buffet looked so good and I’d had enough suffering. I decided I was going to eat everything I wanted to on that buffet just as it was. Oh, it was so good! When I went back up for my 2nd helping, I realized my face felt awfully hot. When I got back to the table I whispered to the hubs, “I think an allergic reaction had started to the food. Can you get me the allergy meds from our bag, please?” While he is digging, my mom looks over at me and yells, “Oh my God! Your face is COVERED in hives! What’s wrong with you?!” *sigh* Luckily it was pretty noisy in that place and I don’t think it drew too much attention. Plus, the allergy meds worked pretty fast. Don’t know why I did not think to take them on the monorail ride over…

Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy stop by every table while you are there and will sign autographs and pose for pictures with you. We had gotten signatures from all of them at parks earlier in the week, so we just concentrated on getting pictures. When my dad got his picture taken with Minnie, he was so excited! He even kissed her! The staff sung songs while we all waved our napkins in the air and lots of the guests knew the words. While we were eating, we noticed that a cast member went to the tables on either side of us to show them the pictures taken with the Mickey statue when they arrived and discussed the prices if they wanted to buy any. I thought the price for each picture was steep and was pretty sure we would not buy ours, but I did want to see them. By the time we were done the picture guy still had not visited us. The waiter went in search of our pix and came back empty-handed. It was almost 8:30pm by now. My brother, the hubs, B and I had planned to go back to Epcot to catch their night show, but the hubs changed his mind. He did not want to be out in the cold again, like the night before, and wanted to get B in bed. So my brother and I headed to Epcot and my parents decided to stay at Chef Mickey’s and find out what happened to our pix. They were finally found and my dad was given all of them for free b/c of the mix-up. World-class customer service in WDW, I tell ya!

My brother and I had our coats with us this night, b/c our parents had brought them to us at Chef Mickey’s. We were nice and warm with the coats but also since there was no wind on this night like there was at TMK. There is a lot more spread out space to watch the evening show in Epcot, so we got right up front. I liked the show. My favorite part was the projection of movies on the continents of the globe in the middle of the lake. But I liked TMK’s night show better.

On the way out, I stopped at a vendor cart full of all the light up things that kids want after dark. B had been eyeing a rainbow lightsaber with Mickey’s head on it and I wanted to see how much it cost. Things like this are always expensive at fairs and amusement parks. It was only $7!! That thing would have cost at least $15 in Kings Dominion. So I got it for my B. The hubs and I were pleasantly surprised at how reasonably priced most things were in WDW. Leaving Epcot was the 1st time we were not able to get on the 1st bus to our lodge. But that’s OK; people watching is fun, especially when you have such a variety of people from all over the world to observe.

Oh, I wanted to tell something I left out on my Day One post. I believe that the slight majority of people at the parks when we were there we from outside of the US. That is just another testament to how awesome WDW is! People from around the world spend their hard-earned money to come to the US and experience WDW. Anywho, as we were waiting for the Fantasmic! show at Hollywood Studios to begin, we the crowd entertained ourselves by doing the wave back and forth! Isn’t that awesome? No matter what country you were from, your race, religion or language, we all not only KNEW the wave, but did it. Together. And laughed. Together. That’s something. That’s hope.

Day Four at Disney – The Magic Kingdom

Here is where my reading and planning REALLY paid off. We did what everyone told me could NOT be done – we did The Magic Kingdom. In. One. Day. :o) One WDW veteran told me she sets aside 3 days to do TMK. I was pretty scared, especially when people told me I have no idea how big that park is. I did not think it was very convenient to maneuver around Animal Kingdom b/c of the way it was laid out. After we left AK, another guest told us that TMK is set up the same way but is 4x larger. I honestly did not feel like it was any bigger than Kings Dominion in Virginia, but maybe that is my perception b/c we did not hit everything.

I don’t know if I can describe how I felt when we walked through the entrance and saw Cinderella’s Castle. TMK is the most exciting place I have been as an adult. I don’t think any 5 year old girl walking in there with her princess dress on and getting a hug from Belle herself could have been happier than me. The extra wrinkles/cracks I caused on my face from the ear-to-ear grinning that day was totally worth it. I am tearing up right now, just thinking about it. The memory of that feeling will always be with me and will be pulled out and relived on bad days and during discouraging moments.

I realized that I had taken the same detached attitude towards this trip as I did with my pregnancy. We had tried to get pregnant for 6 years. We had been to many specialists who tried to help, but couldn’t and to some who flat out told us there was nothing that could be done and we should adopt. So when I finally got pregnant, although I seemed reservedly happy to others, I was unemotional about it on the inside. I stayed detached but went through most of the motions and did most of the right things you are supposed to do as a pregnant woman. But I would not get excited; I would not hope. I knew in my bones that this baby was not going to come out alive. I could not survive the loss if I had thrown myself whole heart and soul into that baby. A friend of mine had to register for me b/c I refused to do it. Paul kept pushing me to to the nursery and I refused. What was the point in picking things out and getting a room ready for a child that is not going to live there? Finally, 2 weeks before my due date, Paul pulled out the “Obey” and told me, “If you don’t start on that nursery TODAY, I am going to tell your mom to do it and I don’t think you’ll like what she does!”

I’ve always wanted to take a vacation to WDW, but never thought I’d actually go. Whenever we’ve gotten a little set aside some car or medical or house emergency would come up. So, when the hubs told us in October that we were going in January, I was reservedly excited. He would not, and still hasn’t, told me how he managed this trip. But I figured something would come up during those 3 months that would cancel out the trip. The hubs and I have been together for 16 years and have only take 3 weeks off in that time. We took the week after our wedding off, but never took a honeymoon. We visited people during that week. Then 4 years later, a family friend let us stay at her house on the Eastern shore for a week for our anniversary. The hubs had to go back to work halfway through the week. 10 years after that, this past September, we went back to that beach house for a week and we all stayed the week. So, I objectively did my research and planning without any heart in it, b/c I didn’t think a “real” family vacation was in the cards for us.

Even though we had been in WDW for 3 days, it wasn’t until I walked into TMK and saw Cinderella’s Castle that I got that really-here-alive-and-breathing-my-own-baby-placed-in-my-arms feeling.

It was the perfect day to go. I did not think it was crowded. The Birmbaum book had said that Mondays and Saturdays are the busiest days in this park and I get that. So many people, like us, arrive in the beginning of the week and of course you want to go to TMK first! By Wednesday, when we went, I think a lot of people had moved on to the other parks. We got Fast Passes for every ride on my list that offered them and there were little to no lines for the rides that did not offer FPs. Ben got to ride lots of rides here, which made us both happy. Although he enjoyed the other 2 parks we had been to, he hadn’t gotten on too many rides. It was cool in the morning, but our sweatshirts were enough, then warmed up beautifully. The evening, however, was cold, and I wished we had brought our coats. The temps did not, however, make us leave the park and miss the show at the end of the night. No one puts on a show like Disney!

Something occurred frequently in this park that we had not seen on the 3 previous days – meltdowns. There were a lot of those in TMK. Screaming, crying, kids throwing themselves down in the middle of the streets. Those poor kids. It can be overwhelming and exhausting for us adults, too.

We had been in the park about an hour and the hubs, my brother and I were waiting while B and my folks went on a ride in Tomorrowland. We were amazed at the number of birds in this park! There was one of those stroller parking lots outside this ride and we were marveling at the bold birds that were all over them and in them, eating the crumbs and crackers left by the children, when a bird pooped in my hair! That had never happened to me before, but it’s alright – it was a Disney bird and I made Paul wipe it all out with pride! ;o)

My brother and I were the only ones brave enough to ride Space Mountain. B wanted to ride, but we said, “No”, after what happened in AK. I’m glad I went on it so I have no regrets. I wish we had gone back and rode it again. Now that I know what to expect, I think I would enjoy it. The Hall of Presidents was amazing (I know I keep using that word, I’m sorry)! My mom and I cried. Ben wanted to argue with me for half an hour after we left the Hall that those were NOT robots, they HAD to be REAL people! Another iconic ride I’m glad we hit was the tea cups.

The 2nd shop in WDW in which you can make your own Mickey ears hats was in TMK and B made another one. He had $72 of his own to spend on this trip between Disney GCs he received from relatives at Christmas and his piggy bank money. He even came home with $6. This hat is navy blue with a red mohawk down the middle, 2 black ears covered with fireworks and the words, “Mickey Rocks” embroidered on the front.

The nighttime show at TMK was the best, in my opinion. Unbelievable how the colors change on the castle, how the bricks appear to fall off and over 200 pictures of us tourists taken by cast members throughout the day appeared on the front. Tinkerbell flying by and the fireworks coordinated with the music brought back the feeling of walking into the park that morning. Again, the best and most exciting place I have been as an adult.

Day Three at Disney – Park Break

A friend of mine who’s been to Disney before shared all her knowledge and tips with me before we went. Thanks to her, I had the Birmbaum Guides to read and help me plan our week. I knew we would not be able to everything at every park. So, I made a list of the main things we wanted to see and it worked out great!

I planned Tuesday as a day of rest (especially for our feet!) from the parks. The original plan was to hang at the lodge – read, be lazy or swim, in Ben’s case – in the morning and early afternoon then head to Downtown Disney for shopping and dinner. The weather, however, had other plans. A storm was due to start late afternoon and include heavy rain, hail, tornado warnings and 50+ MPH winds. So we changed our dinner reservations at Wolfgang Puck’s to lunch reservations and headed out to Downtown Disney mid-morning.

Like I said in my last post, that place is amazing! We had much more time to go through lots of shops this day and took advantage of it. B made himself a Mickey ears hat – I didn’t even know you could do that! I thought that they just sold the standard black hats with black ears and you had the option to add a name and/or Minnie’s bow. He picked a bright blue hat with sparkles in it. He chose 2 different ears – one was silver with a raised impression of Mickey and the other was black with a “bejeweled” Mickey head outline in rhinestones and pink hexagon jewels for the face and ears. He added a patch to the front that shows the 5 main characters (MM, MM, DD, P & G) and says, “My 1st Trip to Walt Disney World” and had his name embroidered on the back in hot pink thread. He was SO PROUD of that hat! He had seen many other people walking around with ears on for the last 2 days and he finally had his own!

The hubs wanted me to get ears, too, but I did not want to spend the money. He begged me to at least try on a Minnie pair he liked b/c he said I’d look so cute in them. I tried them on for him and then he told me to look in the mirror, convinced I would want to buy them after I saw myself. I looked in the mirror and, you know what? I looked ADORABLE! ;o) It was hard to resist, but the practical gal in me did.

We must have spent an hour in the pin trading hut, looking at, buying and trading pins. That pin trading is such an awesome idea and the cast members seemed just as excited to trade as B was. We went into Goofy’s Candy Co. and could not believe the homemade confections in there. I wish I had taken pictures of the large portions. After looking at the rice crispy treat cakes, Ben asked if I would make him one for his next birthday. Surprisingly, he did not ask me to buy one thing in that store. He did take the mint fudge sample a cast member offered us and it was good.

We had planned to do the Character In Flight tethered hot air balloon ride, but the winds had been getting stronger all day, so it was grounded. Bummer. That was the only way Paul would ever get me in a hot air balloon. But the lunch at Wolfgang Puck’s made up for it – excellent food and service.

There is a life-sized Loch Ness Monster made out of LEGOS in the lake at DD! There is also a 6′ tall Woody from Toy Story and a robot and T-Rex taller than the store, all made out of LEGOS. Paul and I went ga-ga over all the Disney-themed kitchen stuff you could buy. A co-worker had asked the hubs to get her a Disney shot glass and we bought B a tea mug with it’s own spoon. So we did not have to carry it around, and so we could surprise B with it back at home, we had the items sent back to the lodge from the store. Isn’t that a great service? Anything you buy, anywhere in WDW, can be sent back to your resort so you don’t have to lug it around. And if you are not staying at a WDW resort, your purchases in the parks can be sent to the front of the park to pick up on your way out. All free of charge. I had heard that Disney’s customer service was exceptional and, for the most part, they did NOT disappoint.

2 minutes after we boarded a bus back to the lodge, it started to rain. It stopped when we turned onto the lodge’s property (I think even God was excited that we had finally made it to WDW ;o) ). But almost an hour later, the skies opened up and it poured. We got wind, but all the tornado activity stayed in other parts of the county from us. The lodge was full of people b/c everyone had abandoned the parks but there was plenty of entertainment and food to go around. We got to bed early and got another good night’s sleep.

Day Two at Disney – Animal Kingdom

Since the hubs and I were up the day before from 4am to 11pm, I planned for us to go to Animal Kingdom on Monday. The park closed at 5pm, forcing us go straight to our dinner reservations and, hopefully, call it an early night. Luckily, our breakfast waitress at the Lodge did not yell at us nor yell our business throughout the restaurant. Probably b/c we were there when they opened and there was hardly anyone else up that early. :o) B thought that the blankets on his bed were nailed to the floor b/c he was unable to loosen them at all during the night. hehehe They were just really tucked in well!

The Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom is a wonder to behold. We stopped and looked at it from several different angles and raced against each other to see who could find the 300+ different animals carved into it first. The Safari ride was awesome! To get that close to so many animals! I don’t know how Disney got us that close without us seeing any barriers to keep the animals from the vehicle we were in. We rounded one corner and a black rhino was walking down the narrow road right at us, not 20 feet away! There was no room to go around him and I don’t think that was a “planned” part of the ride.

I was bummed that I could not go on every ride b/c of my back problems, but my ride-phobic husband said he would rise to the occasion and gone on EVERYTHING with B that I could not. So, I sent my mom, my brother, the hubs and B off to Expedition Everest while my dad and I found a shady spot to rest in another section of the park. Unfortunately, no one got to ride that roller coaster. The hubs begged off at the entrance, leaving B, my mom and my bro to go on. After B and my bro were harnessed into their car, B FLIPPED OUT! It really affected my brother, seeing that kind of “episode” in his nephew (I’m used to it and no longer worry about what strangers around us think). The roller coaster did not bother B; he’d been on plenty before. However, the Yeti inside the mountain scared the crap out of him and B was unable to get past that fear. A cast member saw the scene and unlocked their harnesses. When my mom saw B and my brother getting out, she also asked to get out. B was evidently hysterical walking down that exit ramp. He felt so ashamed and I wish I could take that away from him! He flew into his daddy’s arms at the end of the exit ramp and refused to show his face for at least 30 minutes after that. :o(

We had Fast Passes to the ride Dinosaur, and we ALL had doubts about Ben getting on that one after his reaction to Everest. He said he wanted to try, so all 6 of us headed in. We were watching the video of Phylicia Rashad explain the adventure were about to embark on, when B elbowed me. I leaned down and he whispered in my ear, “I changed my mind; I want to get out.” My dad was only too happy to go out with him! LOL I’m glad B did not go through with that ride. It was dark, loud, things jumped out at us and it took every muscle in my body to keep from cracking heads with the family members on either side of me. There is no way I would have been able to hold and shield B during that ride and not crack something against another rider.

B got more autographs and pix in this park so it was another success from his perspective.

When the park closed, we headed to Downtown Disney for dinner reservations. That place is amazing! B and my brother could have spent all day in the LEGO store, alone. I did not realize that dinner was at a restaurant that did not take our Disney dining plan – Fulton’s Crab House. Although the service was attentive, the food was not that good. The free crab dip appetizer was wonderful and, like everywhere we went, the drinks were great, but only 2 of us enjoyed our entrees. Not worth the high cost of the meal and long time it took for our entrees to arrive.

I Can’t Believe We Actualy Went to Disney! – Day One

We went to Walt Disney World last week, 1/23 – 1/28. Back in October, when the hubs surprised B and me with the Disney trip as a combo anniversary present for us/birthday present for B, I ignorantly told everyone that the reason I was so excited is that none of us had ever been. That’s right – a 43 YO man, 38 YO woman and 8 YO boy had never been to WDW. But I was mistaken. See, I thought “Walt Disney World” was a PARK. I now know that what I thought was WDW was actually The Magic Kingdom, just 1 of 4 WDW parks. So, I apologize for telling a lie. When I was a sophomore in high school, my school chorus went to Orlando for a national competition. While there, we had approx 6 hours in which we could go to “Disney World” (The Magic Kingdom) or Epcot. Since I had been to neither one, I relied on my friends to make the decision. They said that “Disney World” was for little kids and I should go to Epcot with them. So, I did. I had enough time to buy myself a hat in China and have a meal in Morocco, at which I tried calamari for the 1st time. That’s it.

So, now that I have that off my chest, here is our 1st day in WDW…

Our very good friends picked us up at 5am on the 23rd to take us to the airport. While we were checking our bags at the counter, I realized that I had left our Magical Express stuff at the house! Magical Express is the Disney transportation from the Orlando airport to our Disney resort. It included bag tags that would automatically send our bags from the plane to our resort and our tickets to get on the Disney bus at the airport. The airline ticket agent took our bags and told us we would just have to collect our own bags at baggage claim in Orlando and carry them to the Disney bus ourselves. OK, but I still had no way to get ON the Disney bus! I called our friends, in tears, and the wife had to calmly talk me out of my tree before she could figure out what the heck I was upset about. We keep each others’ house keys, so they went back to the house for us, collected our Magical Express envelope and brought it back to the airport for us. Just the 1st of many blessings our wonderful friends would bestow upon us during this trip…

We got to see the sunrise from the air in our plane; it was so cool! I have never flown into Orlando before, but they must have some HUGE spread down there because, I kid you not, we taxied for at least 10 minutes back to a terminal. At one point B asked, “Is the plane driving us all the way to our resort, Mama?” LOL We finally got to the terminal, collected our bags and got on a Disney Express bus to the Wilderness Lodge. My parents and brother had taken the 2 previous days to drive down to Orlando and were waiting for us in the Lodge’s lobby. After checking in, getting our room/park/meal plan cards and stowing our luggage, we got some lunch at the Lodge and then hopped a bus to our 1st park – Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

By the time we arrived, it was almost 1pm. All the Fast Passes were gone for rides and Jedi Training Academy was full. But I’m a smart mom, and never told B about those things. :o) So he does not know what he missed out on. What we did get to do and see, B was TOTALLY excited and happy about and that’s all that matters. We saw the Indiana Jones stunt show and B got autographs from and pix with Indy’s and Miriam’s stunt doubles. That was a great show! The only objective B went down there with for Hollywood Studios was getting into the Playhouse Disney LIVE! show, and we did. He got to holler and dance with the best of them! No matter that he was the oldest kid there by at least 3 years; his dance moves impressed and entertained all the other parents.

Santa had given B an autograph book for Christmas and our travel agent had given him a lanyard and his 1st trading pin. His biggest excitement was walking underneath “the hat” in this park – the wizard hat Mickey wore in Fantasia. The pin selling and trading hub of the park was located there. He bought some pins, with his own saved money and GCs received at Christmas, and made his 1st trade with a fabulously friendly cast member. We got pix and autographs from Disney characters and B got to dance in the Disney ROCKS! teen show. It was 4:52pm and I was filming B in the Disney ROCKS! show when reality FINALLY sunk in – I’m. Actually. In. Walt. Disney. World. I could NOT believe it!

We stayed for the 6:30pm Fantasmic! evening laser/fireworks/story show. To tell you the truth, we could have done without it, but we only know that b/c we stayed. If we chose to skip it, we’d always wonder and regret. Lessons learned. We got back to the hotel and the 4:30am rising had taken its toll on B. My mom put him to bed and stayed with him while the hubs, me, my dad and my brother went down for dinner. The Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge is quite an experience. They throw things at you, yell at you, yell your business to everyone else in the dining room and talk to you as if you were family. However, every Disney restaurant impressed me b/c the chefs came out to our tables to discuss our food allergies and bent over backwards to try to accommodate. B’s peanut allergy was no problem; my olive oil allergy was another story. Everything on Disney properties is cooked in an olive oil/canola oil mix. Bummer for me. I was SO looking forward to experiencing world-class dining but, due to my olive oil allergy, my food had to be cooked in a pan w/o oil and seasonings and could only be accompanied by steamed veggies. Oh, well. B got to eat WHATEVER he wanted and that made me so happy!

Our travel agent secured us the best rooms at the Lodge and we were so pleased. We all got a great night’s sleep.

Wedding in Detroit, MI

My cousin, Jed, got married this weekend in the Detroit, MI area.  I have never seen a groom unable to contain so much happiness and excitement!  It was wonderful to behold.  He just grinned so wide and was bouncing up and down on the balls of his feat throughout the entire ceremony!

We originally planned on driving out there – halfway after B got out of school on Thursday and the rest of the way on Friday morning.  But my dad so generously offered to fly us out there, so we took him up on his offer.  B and I have flown together twice before, but this was the 1st time the hubs had flown with B.  I was determined to not check any bags, so I packed up as much as I could earlier in the week and gave it to my parents, who actually drove up.  Our friend, Clair, drove us to and from the airport (thanks Clair and Rudy!)  We got to experience the new trains at Dulles airport, which thrilled B.  Kudos to Delta for not only having the best airline allergy policy I’ve seen but also for their efficient service that got us into our destinations well before scheduled arrival times.  :o)  Will be selecting them in the future, wherever possible!  One of my many Uncle Pauls flew into the same airport within a half an hour of our arrival, and my parents picked us all up.  The hotel was 45 miles from the airport, but the trip was so fast and fun with Uncle Paul’s entertainment!  He is so good with and patient of B, and asked us to include him in any field trips we take to Baltimore next school year.

The reality of how hard our current economic situation has affected Detroit was driven home to us during the car ride from the airport to the hotel.  I have never, in my life, seen entire neighborhoods, schools and businesses abandoned and vandalized.

So Detroit is planning to demolish all of these abandoned areas and turn them into community gardens, so that the locals can grow their own food.  I hope their plan is able to take place and is successful.The hotel that Jed and his bride, Angella, selected for guests was awesome!  It is an extended stay hotel of suites.  We had a one-bedroom suite with a king-sized bed, full kitchen, dining area, DVD/VCR combo, full hot breakfast, library full of movies and books to borrow, warm, friendly staff and CHEAP!  The hotel was right next door to the Silverdome, the former home of the Detroit Lions.

There was also a White Castle burger joint down the street from the hotel!  My brother also drove to the wedding, and I begged him to drive me to the White Castle Friday afternoon so we could get some burgers.  Unfortunately, I found out from the employees that they fry in peanut oil, so we had to walk out with no burgers.  :o(  But no worries, we forgot all about White Castle when we got to the rehearsal dinner.  All wedding guests in town on Friday were invited to a local bowling alley for food, cocktails and glow bowling!  Even though the area was under a severe thunderstorm and tornado warning Friday evening, we didn’t notice in the bowling alley.  Each lane could take up to 6 bowlers, so the hubs, B, me, my brother Neale, my cousin Josie (groom’s sister) and her newlywed husband, Brendan, played until 10pm.  The alley served great appetizers and dinner.  Josie pointed out to me that the neon colors of the bowling shoes and laces matched the colors in the carpet.  So cool to bowl under black lights!  Even better is to hear B say, “I’m tired!  Can we go back to the hotel now?”  :o)  The bride and groom, Jed and Angella, presented B with congratulations-it’s-your-first-wedding gifts.  They are so thoughtful!  They gave him glow bracelets, which he saved for the wedding reception, and a new LEGO set which kept him occupied on Saturday morning.

Due to the storms Friday and Saturday, the church lost power Saturday morning.  It worked out beautifully because we got to attend a candle-lit wedding!  The hubs and I were so proud of B during the full, Catholic mass wedding.  We let him move as much as he needed to as long as he kept quiet and that’s what he did.  I wish his school could see what a difference it makes to just let him move…  None of the ladies in the wedding party, including the bride, held a bouquet during the ceremony.  I noticed it immediately during the procession and thought to myself, what a wonderful idea!  They are unencumbered by bouquets throughout the ceremony – what a great idea!  It turns out, the florist just didn’t make it to the church in time!  I would not be surprised if this florist’s faux pas doesn’t end up setting a future trend.

The service ended at 3pm and the reception did not start until 5:30pm.  We stopped at a CVS on the way back to the hotel to pick up some anti-itch cream.  Ben was having an allergic reaction to something he ate the night before.  I will gladly handle a skin reaction, especially away from home, rather than an anaphylaxis reaction!  Starting at 5pm, a bus rented from the local parks and recreation dept shuttled guests from the hotel to the reception.  What a fabulous idea, especially since there was an open bar at the reception!  The reception took place at a beautiful place with historical decor.  There was great food, a slide show of Jed and Angella through the years and a wonderful DJ with great tunes to dance to.  B and I were out on that dance floor until the hubs dragged us, as well as my brother Neale, off to bed.  BOOO!  There was also a photo booth at the reception!  I’ve never seen such a thing and it was yet another great idea from the wedding couple.  You went into the booth and could choose from a tub of accessories, if you desired.  Just like a photo booth on the beach boardwalk, 4 pix were taken of those in the booth at any give time.  Two strips of every turn in the booth were printed out.  One strip was placed in a photo album for the married couple and we were invited to sign our photos.  The other strip copy was for us to take with us.  The vendor of the photo booth also gave us his card and said that he would have all photos on his website by Tuesday afternoon for us to download and/or print for free.  :o)  When we were heading back to the hotel on the party bus, we passed the custom bus for the “Girls Gone Wild” show a couple of blocks from the church!  Much to the hubs’ dismay, the driver would not stop and let us out.  :o(

After all the partying, B slept in 2 whole hours this morning and woke at 7:30am.  He and the hubs went to the lobby for breakfast and let me stay in bed.  They brought me back breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day!  My parents gave me a card and B and I gave my mom cards.  By 11am we were on the road back to the airport for our flight home.  Clair and Rudy picked us up and brought us home.  The hubs promptly fell asleep on the couch.  I was tired myself, having found it difficult to stay awake on the plane ride home.  But I rallied!  I left B in charge of his father and went out to forage for licka and dinner.  Everyone would be at all of the area restaurants and we wanted to be at home.  I got some crab legs, scallops and queso fixin’s for our Mother’s Day dinner.  Such a perfect ending to a wonderful weekend full of family and memories!

Now, I must admit, my eyelids are drooping and I must turn in.  Happy Mother’s Day!

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