B, the hubs and I spent 4 days in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was a lovely and well-needed mini vacay! Unfortunately, we were unable to experience Revolutionary City this time. However, since we are starting American History in 5th grade this month (how is he a 5th grader already?!), we will definitely be making a trip back. Instead of writing the usual post about our trip, I decided to create a Top 10 List, a la David Letterman. Although, knowing me, I won’t be able to limit each item to just one sentence. But, it will limit me to only ramble on about 10 things. ;o) Disclaimer: these are not all necessarily the best things about our trip, merely the ones that stand out the most. Here we go…
I want to thank all of you who entered my $20 restaurant gift card giveaway! I feel like a winner, too, because I got some great dish recommendations to try in my future eating out endeavors. The winner, chose by Random, is Heather P.! Congratulations! I’ll be contacting you to get you your GC as soon as possible.
Sorry I’ve left you hanging on the rest of our trip to New England last month. I took notes while on the trip in on of those 6″x 9″, top-spiraled notebooks so I would remember what I wanted to blog about. However, I had not been able to find the book again for the past week to continue my story. We must have at least a hundred of these books around the house! I don’t know where they come from! I don’t buy them. I found my notes in the 6th notebook I looked through tonight. *sigh* Anywho, I’m just glad I found it and when I’m done tonight, I need to put in a place where the hubs can’t include it in his “straightening up”.
I love how sparsely settled Vermont is compared to where I live. Just mountains and valleys of green that go on and on. The view kept me so occupied during the drive. I never get tired of seeing the shadows of the clouds on the mountains nor the trees growing out of the rock faces where the roads were carved out of mountains. Those trees are a wonderful example of perseverance! When I was a kid, we would drive up to Vermont at least twice a year and I’ve missed it.
On the afternoon of August 19th, we went to The Vermont Country Store, one of the very few places I actually go willing to shop. I wanted to buy everyone on my Christmas list presents there. In the morning we were hanging at the rec room of my Nana’s apartment complex, playing board games and doing laundry, when a storm rolled in. The thunder is amazing to hear, rolling down from the mountain tops and echoing back up. What a beautiful symphony of nature. There was a piano in the rec room and B wanted to try it. He does not play; we don’t even have a piano. My ILs have a small, electric one and B loves to sit for a bit every time we visit them in Baltimore. He tries to teach himself parts of songs by ear, like Row, Row, Row Your Boat. He sat down at that upright, in the rec room, in the middle of a storm in Southern Vermont and his fingers just flew over those keys. He wasn’t playing a known piece; he was creating his own. It was an absolutely beautiful concerto! He played hard and soft, high and low, cords and notes. What a concert between his playing, the steady rhythm of the falling rain and the echos of thunder. I was so mesmorized, I didn’t even think to get out my camera and record his playing until he was done. I am so upset at myself for that! One of the other residents was heading out for a walk when the storm hit and ducked into the rec room to wait it out. She also felt blessed to hear this spontaneous creation of B’s that day.
We headed down to Massachusetts on Saturday morning to attend my cousin’s wedding that afternoon. It was a beautiful ceremony with the most poignant vows. When an officiant says the standard, “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health” to a bride and groom, most of us have no idea what worse, poorer or sickness could possible be waiting for us and plenty of us are not equipped to deal with it. But this minister had realistic and direct vows that couples nowadays could use and truly live by, “I will love you even when you drive me crazy; I will respect you even when we argue”.
The wedding was an interracial marriage and there was no bride side or groom side for sitting. We all mingled throughout the seats. There was a vase with a hole in the middle that the couple went to during the ceremony. The minister held a bottle of white sand, the bride a bottle of light green sand and the groom a bottle of black sand. The minister poured half of his sand in the bottom and the bride and groom then poured in their own sands, sometimes together, sometimes taking turns, until their bottles were empty. Then the minister poured the rest of his white sand on top. The white sand represented God, the foundation and roof of their union. Sometimes a layer of green sand was thicker, sometimes the black, symbolizing when one will be strong and the other will lean on the 1st. It was a lovely vase to display in their home as a daily reminder.
The reception was fabulous! We were still eating dinner, the DJ was playing some music in the background and B asked if he could go visit my parents who were assigned to another table. Their table happened to be right in front of the DJ and when he got there, the song changed to one he really liked. The wall behind the head table was mirrored and my boy justloves watching himself in a mirror. Forgetting that the room was full of people, he turned to the mirror, got into his zone and just danced. Table by table, people started turning to watch him and the videographer came up behind him, filming, but he was completely unaware. He was in his happy place. When the song ended and the place erupted in applause, he finally noticed his audience; and he was hooked. I don’t think I got him to sit down for the rest of the night.
By the end of the night, the DJ was ready to hire B as his partner because he said B could get a crowd going and keep it going. B and one of his 10 yr old female cousins, H, were selected to get the whole place on the dance floor. H was shy and did not want to dance in front of everyone, but B told her not to worry, he would lead. And lead he did! It was awesome! After a minute, the DJ stopped the music and that was the cue for B & H to go grab a new partner from the tables. Every time the music stopped, if you were on the dance floor you had to run and pull someone new onto the dance floor, too. It was crazy fun. We also did the Soul Train dance line! I’d never done that before and it was so awesome! It was such a proud night for me. When so many people from both families told me what a great dancer B was, I knew my baby really had a gift. And he had such confidence. On the way back to the hotel he just beamed. As I tucked him into bed he said sleepily, “Mama, my objective was to dance with the bride tonight and I danced with her three times.” You sure did, baby. You sure did.
When we got back in the car to head to my Nana’s house, B went into the all-about-me’s. I want another movie; read me Harry Potter. When we got to Nana’s it was play a game with me. Although most of the day had been about him and having fun, now he needed to back off and let us do what we needed and wanted to do – unpack, rest, visit with Nana. He was frustrated, unhappy and tired. Instead of whining or continue to pester us, he decided to run laps in the parking lot to burn off his frustration. I have one smart cookie!
Due to limited room, my parents stayed at my Nana’s house and B and I stayed with my dad’s brother and his wife. We had this wonderful carry-out pizza for dinner and my dad asked B if he wanted a knife and fork to eat his pizza. My little smart-ass said, “No, thanks. I don’t eat like Donald Trump.” OMG, I about fell over laughing! My dad, of course had no idea what B was talking about and I could not explain it to him. B was talking about this story on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart where Donald Trump disrespects New Yorkers with his pizza selection and way of eating it. You have to watch it, it’s so funny!
I forgot to tell you another thing we did at Epcot in my last post – Turtle Talk with Crush! We went into a small auditorium with the adults sitting on benches and the kids on the floor up front. The screen in the front of the room is supposed to be like the side of an aquarium and you can see the ocean. Then Crush from Finding Nemo swam up to the “glass” and had an interactive conversation with the kids! B was the 1st kid he talked to and he was so excited. It made up for Mike Wazowski not using B’s joke on the Laugh Floor in The Magic Kingdom. Back to day 6…
Our original return flight left Orlando at 8:40pm to allow us at least another half day in a park before leaving. The airline cancelled our flight and put us on one 3 hours earlier. Since we were taking the Disney Magical Express back to the airport, they told us we had to get on the 2:30pm bus. I guess we could have arisen at o-dark-thirty, packed and hightailed it out of there to a park, but we didn’t want to rush and be stressed. Flying out of a busy airport is stressful enough.
So we had breakfast, packed up everything, stored our bags in my parents’ van and checked out. I was worried about the amount we would owe at check-out. Although we had the meal plan, that does not include tip at your sit-down restaurants. Plus, we had charged our souvenirs to the room. We got 2 surprises at check-out. 1) We only had $86 and some change on the room and, 2) my dad had paid that amount for us. He also did the same for my brother. :o)
During the week we had been on all of WDW’s modes of transportation but one – boat. So we went down to the dock behind the resort and got on a boat. We rode to Magic Kingdom and then to The Floridian Resort. We got off there to explore and had lunch. It’s a very nice, resort, but not for me. I think it would be the perfect resort for my ILs to stay at – quiet, elegant. I encountered my one and only rude cast member at The Floridian – a senior citizen working in the gift shop. B was in the restroom with the hubs and I was browsing. I noticed she had a pin lanyard, but it was turned around so that I could not see her pins. B was looking to collect a specific series of pins and I wanted to see if she had any. If so, I would have brought B in there to trade with her. When I asked if I could please see her pins, she responded rudely, “No! Trading is only for CHILDREN!” OK, I did not have a child with me and some of these pins are collectible items and could be worth money, I guess. So, there are probably some adults out there who try to trade to get good ones for themselves or to sell on eBay. But that does not mean I deserved to have her opinion of such people unleashed on me. I told her that I was aware of that, but that my son, who was in another part of the resort, was looking for something specific so I wanted to just SEE what she had. “Oh,” she huffed. “Fine,” and she flipped her lanyard around. Walt would not be happy with her and I wish I had said that to her. I told the hubs about my encounter and he wanted to go in there and give HER a piece of HIS mind. I stopped him. I did not want our vaca to end like that.
We got back on the boat and headed to the Polynesian. Although there was no one on The Floridian’s beach, the Polynesian’s beach and pool area was full of people. We did not get off and explore. We had to get back for our bus. We said goodbye to my family and boarded the bus. The driver was even able to tell us which terminal our return flight would be located. Riding back to the airport was like walking the plank. All of our hearts were heavy b/c we did not want to go.
We got into the long line for Security and slowly shuffled forward with the masses. Than it REALLY hit B that we were going home and he broke down! He started ugly crying and telling us, loudly, he didn’t want to go home and wanted to go back to the hotel. People were staring, but we didn’t care about that; people ALWAYS stare at my little performer. What we were worried about was him drawing Security’s attention and them not letting us through until they were certain we were not kidnapping him. But this was not one of his typical Drama King moments; his heart was genuinely breaking, the adrenaline was finally wearing off and the late nights and exercise was catching up with him. The hubs picked him up and held him while he cried. B just laid his head down on the hubs’ shoulder; my heart melts when any child does that and my boy looked so young and vulnerable just then. *sniff, sniff*
A snowstorm had hit home while we were gone but our friends had taken care of us. We got picked up at the airport and came home to a shoveled out house and the heat turned up!
As a Valentine’s Day surprise, the hubs created photo albums online and had them shipped to us, my parents and my brother. It is our 1st official coffee table book and that is where it will stay! When we get caught up in the hustle and bustle or are having a blah day, we stop, snuggle up on the couch and go through our book to relive the magical memories. And it WAS a magical trip. I will always be thankful for and grateful to the hubs for whatever sacrifices he made to take us to WDW. After B and himself, it was the best present I’ve ever received.
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.
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.