Disney World Day: 6 Part 2

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 0 comments
The second half of our last day at the park was just as good if not better than the first half of the day. Following naps and dinner we hopped on the bus heading back towards the Magical Kingdom. We were going there to see the Electric Parade and possibly the fireworks show if the kids were up for it.

While waiting for the bus it started to rain just a bit. We didn't mind a light sprinkle and continued on. The closer we got to the park the harder it started to rain. By the time we walked in the front door it was really coming down. We knew all of the rides would be closed so we took the stores for a bit of shopping hoping the rain would pass like everyone else in the park. Mom also wanted to get one final autograph, Minnie Mouse's so we got in line for that as well. While waiting for all of that to come to pass I kept the kids entertained by showing them episodes of the Roadrunner and Wil-E-Coyote; blasphemy in the House of Mouse!

After our visit with Minnie and Mickey the rain had stopped and we went out pick our spots for the Electric Parade. I asked a nearby worker where would be a good spot to sit for the parade. His response was disappointing; the parade had been cancelled. I guess since it rained so late into the night Disney was unable to get the parade ready by its scheduled time. Mom and I were saddened. Alyce on the other hand was devastated. She had fixated on this one item and to have it taken away brought on instant tears. To salvage the evening Mom and I were willing to do just about anything. We immediately fixated on the cart selling glowing toys. I found it hypocritical that Disney would cancel their parade yet still continue to push their overpriced crap on overtired kids and parents at the end of their rope. I however was glad they were there because we gave Alyce a choice of any toy and $15 later Alyce was the owner of a new light up Minnie Mouse toy and the parade was a distant memory. The best $15 dollars ever!

We took a trip over to the Adventure area of the park and took a nighttime ride on the Aladdin ride. The Aladdin ride was just like the Dumbo right but held twice as many people. We walked right on and had a great time.

After Aladdin we used up the last of our snacks on some Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwiches. In my opinion the Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich is the best ice cream available at the parks. I highly recommend you try one if given the chance. I also recommend Disney's chocolate cake. It comes in a small cup with chocolate icing and Mickey Mouse sprinkles. It's divine.

To finish up the night we ventured toward Tomorrow Land. We hadn't done a single ride in this section either so we tried to hit the ones with short rides that wouldn't scare the kids; we were mostly successful. The first ride we rode was the People Mover. This ride is as tame as they come. You ride a little cart throughout the tomorrow land area passing through different dioramas. I most we were traveling 5 mph. For about 30 seconds the ride rolls through a pitch black section and Alyce and Luke both flip out. Mom and I are like "what the heck" and tell the kids to pipe down having run out of patience for such things. Following that we rode on the Carousel of Progress. This ride had been there for ages and Mom and I have never rode on it. It was a pretty cool show that put how far technology has changed in the past 100 years. What I found funny was that a lot of things shown to be in the future are already here today. It's got a catchy song too.

Following Tomorrow land we caught the tail end of the fireworks display. After that we called it a night. When finally back to the room and the kids in bed the clock read 11:30. This night and the night before taught us the lesson we should have learned early on. It is better to keep the kids up late in the cool of the night than to force them through the hot of the day. Even though you'd be dealing with overtired kids it is better than hot kids. Too bad it took us so long to figure it out.

Disney World Day: 6 Part 1

For our 6th and final day at Disney World we wanted to jam as much into the day as we could. We knew we could burn the kids out as we didn't have to keep them fresh for another day at the park. With Luke this would turn out to burn us pretty good but that is for another day. This day was all about Alyce. This was her big day!

Since even before we booked our trip to Disney World we knew of and wanted Alyce to do the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.  The boutique as I'll call it from now on is a special experience at Disney World. It is a place where little girls are made into princesses. For a price your little girl can get dressed up in one of many princess dresses, wear princess shoes, hair styled, makeup done, and fingernails painted. Getting dressed up was the first order of business. Our appointment was right at the park opening. So we got everyone up early, dressed and out the door earlier than we had at any point during the week. We were able to skip breakfast because following Alyce's transformation we had an appointment to have breakfast with the princesses.

The entire princessing of Alyce overwhelmed her a bit. She didn't cringe or hide from all that was being done. She sat there very focused and not moving a muscle. The stylists or Fairy Godmothers in Training attempted small talk and Alyce did answer their questions but she wasn't bouncing off of the walls. Alyce chose a Cinderella dress, shoes, crown, and scepter (big surprise). When it was all finished our little girl was a princess! There was one problem though. The night before Alyce got a bug bite on her forehead and in the morning her bangs were covering the red bump. Now that her bangs were whipped into an up do the bump was front and center. We didn't get to worked up about it since there wasn't much we could do. As part of the package we got a few pictures taken of Alyce in her outfit both by herself and with the senior Fairy Godmother.

We had a few minutes to spare before our breakfast appointment so Mom took the kids on It's a Small World and the carousel. I in the mean time got some Fast Passes for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad for Mom and I rode on the Haunted Mansion ride. When that was all finished Mom checked us in early for breakfast and they let us in right then and there! We stood in line inside the Enchanted Castle to get our pictures taken with Cinderella.

Following pictures we went up the spiral staircase to have breakfast with princesses. Breakfast wasn't much to write home about as there wasn't much on the plate for the price you paid. However you weren't here for the food you were there for the entertainment. Throughout breakfast just about every Disney princess came out, greeted each table, gave autographs, and stood for pictures.

When breakfast was finished we pushed the kids around the park a bit and took yet another ride on It's a Small World. If you haven't figured it out yet that ride was the kid's favorite. I think they would have been content riding that ride over and over again all day. It is a good deal as far as rides are concerned. The line moves quickly, the ride takes forever, and the entire thing is air conditioned. The only downside is that you get that crazy song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Mom got a chance to ride the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. While she was off doing that I was keeping the kids happy in the shade. Both kids were out of the stroller and that was when a great picture of Luke was taken. One neat feature that Disney is doing in their parks is a service called Photo Pass. The Photo Pass service consists of a lot of photographers hired by Disney to be staked out in some of the most photogenic places in the park. You hand them a card with a unique bar code on it and after the photographer take a few shots they scan the card and the pictures are linked to your account. They will also take pictures with your camera as well. We didn't do that too much and it did come back to bite us but that is for another post. While the kids were running around a Photo Pass Photographer came by and snapped a quick picture of Luke with his head between two handrails. It was a unique moment captured in time where Luke was showing his true colors. Of all the Photo Pass pictures taken that one was our favorite and probably the best picture we have of Luke.

The second to last thing we did at the park that day was to ride the Liberty Square Riverboat around Tom Sawyer's Island. There was no line and I thought the kids would get a kick being on a boat watching the world go by. It was really starting to get hot at this point and Luke was showing signs of wear. Alyce on the other hand was a rock. I'm guessing it had something to do with the princessing but never once did she complain that she was hot or that her feet were bothering her. The shoes she was wearing didn't look comfortable and being clear plastic (glass slipper) her feet didn't have anyway to breath. I could see the moisture on the inside of her shoe. Mom and I were impressed with her endurance.

When it was time to leave neither kid voiced a complaint. Before we left we took one detour to ride the Monorail.  We didn't go anywhere as we just rode the loop from the park to the parking lot and back again. Following the Monorail ride we headed for the buses and back to the resort for a nap before we finished our final night at Disney World.

Disney World Day: 5

Our 5th day at Disney World was our off day.  Up till now we were at a park just about every second we had available.  Today instead of going to EPCOT we decided to stick around the resort and enjoy the pool.  That being said we didn't ignore EPCOT.  I woke up early and went to that park for the open.  There is a ride there called Soarin that on average has a line of 100 minutes. This ride was on my to do list but I didn't want to subject the family to the line.  I got there when the park opened rode the ride and grabbed a Fast Pass so Mom could ride later during nap time. It was a neat ride and I'm glad I rode it but I don't think it is worth a 100 minute line.

Following my solo trip the family hit the big resort pool.  Like a few days before Luke rode the slide while Alyce hung out in the big pool.  After a bit I brought Luke over to Mom and Alyce and we hung out together.  We were having so much fun I wanted to record it and got a waterproof film camera at the the gift shop.  We haven't gotten those pictures developed yet but I think they will turn out great.  It's been years since I used a camera without a screen.  I had to reacquaint myself with a viewfinder. Hah!

We pulled the kids out of the pool to snag some lunch before naps and a return trip to the Animal Kingdom. This is where we had one of our nightmare moments of the trip. I'm guessing we had both kids in the pool too long and let their stomachs run empty. As we sat down to lunch both kids where crying. Maybe crying is being too kind, they were sobbing. Who knows what they were crying about but Mom and I knew if they would eat they'd be fine.  However, they wouldn't take a break to put any food in their mouth.  Then right when it couldn't get any worse Alyce accidentally dropped her food onto the floor. And just when you thought she couldn't get any louder Alyce kicked it up a notch. At that moment I don't know where this came from but I just started laughing. Laughing at how both our kids were crying at what was supposed to be the happiest place on earth.  Mom didn't share in my finding of humor. She confided in my later that she was about to cry at that moment. Luckily only a single chicken nugget was lost to the floor and the food falling on the floor kicked Alyce out of her funk and she started eating. Luke after drinking his milk regained composure enough to start and finish his lunch.  20 minutes after lunch was over both kids where laughing and having a good time. With kids you always ride the fine line between laughing and sobbing.

After naps and Mom's trip to EPCOT to ride Soarin we took the bus ride back to the Animal Kingdom. As written about earlier when we were there the first time we didn't get a chance to finish everything.  However, we almost didn't get a chance to hit the things we missed. On our way to the park some rain was moving into the area and all of the rides at Animal Kingdom were shut down. We weren't deterred, walked past all those leaving, and took the few free minutes to do a bit of shopping. While waiting Mom got a dress for Alyce and a shirt for Luke. I kept Luke occupied by rolling and bouncing back and forth. At one point the ball that hadn't been paid for rolled out of the store! I quickly retrieved and brought it back in but the employees were cool with it and even played with us for a few rotations.

Even though it was still raining we decided to look around to see what we could do from what was available. We ended up stumbling upon exactly what we came to the park to do. On the video we had at our house before we left for vacation it talked about how you could dig for dinosaurs at the park. Alyce fixated on that and repeatedly asked to do it. We knew that the dinosaur dig was accessed via a playground called the Boneyard which was closed. We walked passed an area that looked to be covered and protected from the rain; we decided to take a look.  Well it turned out it was the dinosaur dig and it was open! The slides and other parts of the Boneyard were closed but they let people in the back as long as they didn't climb on the steel structure.  Major win for us! We didn't even want the slides, just the dig, and we had it pretty much to ourselves.

The dig was as big of a hit as it was built up to be. Alyce and Luke both enjoyed themselves digging in the gravel unearthing the bones of a woolly mammoth. Really the bones were concrete copies of a mammoth's bones but Alyce didn't need to know that. Adults aren't supposed to help dig to leave room for others but it was so empty I joined in on the fun. It isn't every day you get to dig for bones. After a while the kids got kind of bored with the bones and we went off in search of a ride. We found one in the TriceraTop Spin.  The spin is a loose copy of the Dumbo ride in the Magic Kingdom however it doesn't carry near the attention as Dumbo. Throw in some light rain and we had the ride to ourselves.  After our first ride the workers told us we didn't have to get out and go around to the entrance. Instead we got to stay on the ride for another run. Alyce and Luke both thought this was awesome. I'd say this is the most fun they had on a ride up to that point. After a total of 3 turns on the spin we took our leave and headed for home. We had to get up early the next day as it was Alyce's big visit with the princesses.

Disney World Day: 4

For our 4th day at Disney World we visited Hollywood Studios.  This is Disney's movie themed park.  The weather today was a lot better than yesterday as the humidity was lower.  There was some smoke blowing in from the east but it eased up after a little while.

The first thing we did was to go have breakfast with the characters.  This dining experience was a lot better than yesterday. We got right inside without waiting more than 30 seconds.  At no time during breakfast did the restaurant fill up.  This was probably due to the fact that the characters in attendance were B level characters.  However, for us they were A list celebrities. Walking around were Leo and June from Luke's and Alyce's favorite show Little Einsteins and also Handy Manny and Secret Agent OSO were there. We scored some major points with Leo and June because Luke was watching an episode of Little Einsteins on our phone when they came over.  Leo even stopped to watch for a few minutes. During breakfast they played some music over the speakers and Alyce and I got up to dance with them.  It was a good time.

After breakfast we attended the Disney Junior Live on Stage show.  This was a live action show with all of our kid's favorite characters.  The characters were puppets with a few live people on stage.  There were the Little Einsteins, Handy Manny and his tools, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and the cast of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Our kids ate this up. They were riveted the entire show.  The one problem for me was that we all had to sit on the floor and after 20 minutes with a kid in my lap my leg and foot fell asleep.

After the show we crossed the park for the Toy Story Mania ride.  I grabbed Fast Passes earlier while Mom was heading towards breakfast.  It was probably a good thing too. When the park opened there was a mad dash to this ride and there was even a line for Fast Passes! By the time we reached the ride the Fast Pass times were up to 6:00 that night. The thought occurred to me to try and sell our passes as I bet there were a few not so prepared families out there with more money than sense. I quickly dismissed the thought and we hopped on the ride.  It was a cool ride but needed 3D glasses so Luke didn't get a lot out of it as he wouldn't wear them.  Alyce needed some help aiming her gun at the screen too.

Following that I left the party for a bit to go ride a ride by myself while Mom hung out with the kids at a playground.  When I caught back up with them Alyce and Luke were red in the face from running around but still seemed in good spirits. Rather than take a break for lunch we got a snack of ice cream sandwiches before we went on to our last ride of the day.  As part of the meal plan we had at the resort we each got a single snack a day.  A snack could be a soda, bottled water, piece of fruit, candy, and most importantly ice cream! It is pretty cool getting $15 in ice cream and not having to pay for it.  We really did pay for it when we booked the trip, but at the time you are surprised to see $0.00 on the receipt.  We had a bottled water and 3 ice cream sandwiches between the 4 of us. As the temperature was increasing they went down very easily.

Our last ride of the day was the Rock n Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith.  On our honeymoon this was our favorite ride and now having ridden it again I'd say it is the best ride out of all of the parks. Like Expedition Everest Mom and I had to take turns with the kids while the other rode. Mom went first and I had dad duty for the next 20 minutes. Luke was busy watching Dora and Alyce made a friend by sharing the Road Runner cartoons playing on my phone. It was really neat seeing the two strangers laugh and giggle in such close proximity. By time my ride was over Alyce's friend was gone; sadly never to be seen again.

That evening after naps we took a quick trip over to EPCOT.  We knew there wasn't a lot there for kids but we did have a few things we wanted to see.  The first thing on our list was the Leave A Legacy sculptures.  On our honeymoon we bought two squares; one with our picture and one with the date of our marriage. These two squares will be there for a total of 30 years and we are already 9 years into those 30.  It's crazy how time flies. Once we found the pictures it was pretty amazing seeing ourselves from so long ago. We were so thin!

Next before the fireworks we took a quick trip over to the Finding Nemo ride.  We thought this would be an easy win as it is a slow paced ride where you get to see lots of fish.  Amazingly even Alyce was afraid of this. She was afraid she'd see the big shark from Finding Nemo and she did. The sharks didn't do anything aggressive so her panic was unwarranted. Luke on the other hand kept cheating by looking at the next scene ahead rather than the scene we were on. At least he sat down for the entire ride.

When the fireworks started up both kids flipped out.  Both of them had sat through fireworks displays in the past so their fear this time was surprising.  Alyce got into the stroller and closed the top so she couldn't see the display and Luke dove into my shoulder and whimpered at each explosion.  We took an early leave of the show so we could hit the buses quickly and as we got further away the kids relaxed enough to finish the display. Perhaps they were just too close?

What's That Smell?

On the 4th day as we exited our room there was a smell on the air.  No it wasn't "that" smell Luke hadn't messed his diaper yet.  We'll have more on that later.  No, the smell on the air was the smell of a campfire.  Both Mom and I thought it was kind of strange but didn't dwell on it.

When we got on the bus heading for Disney's Hollywood Studios the bus driver gets on the p.a. and tells us that there is a wildfire 30 miles east of the park and that in the morning the winds come in from the east and that is why we were smelling the smoke.

Disney World Day: 3

Our third day at Disney World took us to the Animal Kingdom. We needed to get there early as we had a reservation for breakfast with the characters at the Tusker House Grill.  To get to the restaurant by 9:30 we had to wake up at 7:30 and be out the door by 8:30. Even though the kids stayed up late the night before they got moving without much prodding.

Our reservation was for 9:25 and we got there in plenty of time. Enough in fact for me to grab a fast pass for the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. I'm not sure why we even had a reservation as it took them another 20-30 minutes for them to get us to our table. That would be ok except the waiting area was outside and the humidity was worse than normal that day. In the few minutes we waiting our kids were already wilting. There was whining, thrashing and generally unhappy behavior. They didn't get a great pre-breakfast as we were expecting to be eating relatively quickly so empty stomachs and a late night were the culprit. How do you get 30 minutes behind schedule when the park has only been open 25 minutes?

Breakfast when we finally sat down to it was very good. It was buffet style so we didn't have to wait for table service. While we were eating Mickey, Daisy, and Pluto stopped by our table for pictures and autographs.  The kids seemed to get a big kick out of this.  Even though the pictures were a little rough due to some bad lighting we managed a few decent shots for the kid's autograph books.  It's no surprise that Goofy was the most animated of the characters.  He was also the character that noticed that Luke was watching the competition on our iPhone; he was watching Nikelodeon's Dora the Explorer.  Oops.

The drink of choice here was what they called Jungle Juice and it was a combination of passion fruit and guava. Luke hasn't even had orange juice let alone something exotic but we gave it a shot and Luke loved the stuff!  Breakfast was pretty good. It was the first great breakfast we had on vacation. Up to this point we ate donuts, cereal, and milk we ordered online and had delivered to our room via the Garden Grocer.  Alyce ate enough to be considered full but I thought Luke didn't eat enough to fill him up. That was kind of an ongoing thing with him all week. He never really chowed down at any meal. Because of that we were feeding him smaller amounts throughout the day.  On that note I grabbed a banana on the way out for a snack later.

After breakfast we hit our two to-do items.  First off was the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. This was big on Alyce's to-do list.  For a while she had been asking to go on a safari.  She saw a blurb about it on one of the promotional DVDs Disney sent us before our trip. The animals were pretty cool and a few of them were quite close. That being said we didn't see anything we couldn't have seen at the local zoo. Riding in the safari bus is what made the ride cool.

After the safari Mom and I rode Expedition Everest the one and only roller coaster in the park.  It wasn't there when we vacationed here last on our honeymoon.  It was pretty cool but not the best coaster we rode on.  Because it was a coaster the kids couldn't ride so Mom and I had to take turns.  First I rode the ride while she was with the kids and next I was to watch the kids while she rode.  However, whenever I got off the ride I couldn't find Mom and the kids.  I looked were I left them, called her phone, left text messages and she couldn't be located.  I even went to our next scheduled stop to see if Mom had to take the kids for some reason.  After 30 minutes of searching we managed to touch base and she finally got to ride. Mom was in a gift shop where the coaster exited and there wasn't any cell signal in there.  We must have missed each other as I exited ride and we didn't have a meeting place specified. There was a lesson to be learned; you can't always trust technology. Nothing beats having a predetermined meeting place if we got lost or separated.

After our little debacle it was approaching noon and the humidity was sucking the life out of us.  We took an early leave of the park with the understanding we'd come back some other day.  We had some dinosaur bones to dig up.

Following a much needed nap we decided to stick around the resort for the rest of the night.  We hung out at the big pool at the resort and had a great time. The big resort pool has a kid area and a big pool. The kid area has water slides, water shooters, and a pirate theme and the adult pool has a small water slide and a few water fountains.  Luke was gung ho about the water slides and would have gone down those the entire time had I not pulled him away from them.  He was to do just about everything himself however there was a big curtain of water separating the steps from the slides that he wouldn't cross without holding my hand.  Alyce on the other had would have nothing to do with the slides.  Just like at our neighborhood pool she want's nothing to do with something that will get her face wet.

After the pool Mom took the kids back to the room while I grabbed a cheese pizza and some dessert.  While eating our pizza on our beds we watched the Disney movie Cars.  Alyce was particularly exited about eating pizza on the bed.  She set out a sheet on her bed, set plates down, sat her animals down, and had a picnic right there.

This was a great night for me.  We didn't have anywhere we needed to go, we were cool, and the kids weren't whining.  It felt like vacation.

Tools of the Trade

Thursday, June 23, 2011 0 comments
A trip of this magnitude is not possible without some help. Two things specifically have made this trip easier or even possible, our iPhone and stroller.

Our iPhones have been useful in countless ways. Using the Undercover Tourist Disney World app that show maps of the parks, ride locations, up to the minute lengths of lines, restaurant menus, and parade times. Beyond that movies and shows for the kids have kept them entertained and away from the path of oncoming busses. Instead of screaming, wiggling, and overtired children on a bus we have quiet contained little ones. Lastly pictures and blogs. Without this device we'd have another piece of gear to manage on our trip. The iPhone takes great pictures and video too. With Internet access at the resort costing $9.99 a day we are forgoing Internet for our computer and instead I'm posting the blogs from my phone. Typing on this small screen is slower and more prone to errors but I'm managing.

The above tool is a convenience but this next tool is a necessity, our stroller. We didn't want to have to check our stroller on the plane plus we wanted one with the ability to seat two. At the recommendation of www.mousesavers.com we rented a stroller from an off site company for $100 for 6 days of use and that price included $25 loss and theft insurance.

For just that bit we got a double wide stroller delivered to our resort, that we can use at the resort, with seats that fold flat, and has three drink cup holders. When we are done we pack it back in it's bag leave it at the front desk and we are done with it.

Whereas if you were rent one from the Disney parks it would run us $31 a day for this hard plastic nightmare that doesn't fold flat and can't be used at the resort.

Even though we have a great stroller the kids sometimes won't use it. Luke especially has a dislike for it when he needs it most. In the morning he is all about the stroller but as the day wears on he uses it less and less. We try to let him walk but if we have a long way to go sometimes we have to buckle him in against his will and go.

Disney World Day: 2

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 0 comments
The second day of Disney got off to a slow start as we all slept in until 8:00 or later. Nearly 11 hours of sleep for all of us!

We visited the Magic Kingdom again to hit the spots we missed the day before. we rode the notable rides like the Tea Cups and Dumbo (more on that later) and we tried some new attractions such as Mickey's Philharmonic and the Winnie the Pooh ride.

Those two "new" rides deserve some ire. I guess it's just a Disney thing but what is with all of the peril on their rides and in their movies? There were some legitimately scary scenes in the Philharmonic show that made both a 4 and 2 year old cry. At least warn us it's coming! Next the Winnie the Pooh ride. That's right Winnie... The... Pooh... Was scary. That takes some effort right? On the ride there were a few scenes where it looked and sounded like a tornado was coming through. Then toss on a few scenes where everything was flooding. Mix that together and we have another set of crying kids. The only redeeming quality of those rides were the Fast Passes.

Fast passes are Disney's way of getting people to maximize their time in the park. You can show up early for a ride grab a ticket and come back later. When it's your turn to ride you come back and are placed at the front of the line a godsend for those with kids who can't handle lines on hot days.

Cue the Dumbo ride. The one ride Alyce wanted more than any other was the Dumbo ride. It's a pretty short ride. You get in, you go in circles, you go up, you go down, and you're done. The problem is that the ride holds at best 20 people a shot and there is no Fast Pass for one of the most popular rides in the park. Mom and I steeled ourselves for the suffering that was to come from the 45 minute line, in the sun, and on a 95 degree day. Things go well for the first half but the second half is when the wheels fell off the bus. Any rational thought Luke had went out the window. He'd start running into other people, laying down on the ground, and pretty much ignored or did the opposite of what we'd ask of him. By the time we got on Dumbo we were done and so were the kids.

Speaking of lunch Mom and I were kind of surprised. With the kid's meals they came by default with grapes and carrot sticks instead of fries. Even more surprising? The kids ate them and left our fries alone! They did however eat our dessert.

To finish up on Dumbo I have to give Alyce a gold star. She handled herself very well in line and enjoyed the ride. Only when she's past tired, extra hot, or super hungry does she step out of line. You can't ask for much better.

Looking back on it I don't blame Luke for flipping out. It was just too hot for too long for a two year old. If the weather were nicer or he was older we would have had a different result. Sorry little guy.

Following the Magic Kingdom and a nap we went out to dinner at Downtown Disney. At the recommendation of the Disney Reservation person I talked to on the phone we tried the Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant. I'd say his recommendation was right on. We had front row seats to live music and Irish dancing. The music was a bit loud but they were on break for most of our meal and the dancing kept the kids entertained. Mom had a chicken salad for dinner and I had a seafood chowder. Seriously, when did we get so old? In hindsight I should have stayed away from the seafood as I'd never eaten half of the stuff in it. Who knows if I would have been allergic to some unknown shellfish.

Following dinner we stayed out waaayy too late shopping. I got a cool Lego set, Luke got two Mickey Mouse dolls, Alyce got a Cinderella doll and pink Minnie Mouse ears, and Mom got a set of Minnie Mouse ears.

By the time we got the kids to bed that night it was pushing 11:30. They passed out from exhaustion but we knew we were going to pay for it the next day. Cue the ominous music.

Disney World Day: 1


After the bus ride from the airport we got into our room to find it was missing the pack n play we requested. Our plan was for Luke to take a nap before we ventured out but without a proper bed there was a slim chance for that to happen. So we forged on into the abyss and hopped on the bus to the Magic Kingdom with a boy that was up since 4:00 a.m.

Whether it was luck or magic we saw Princess Cinderella, Mickey, and the gang first thing. Right in front of the Enchanted Castle a show was just starting titled "Dreams Do Come True". It had dancing and signing and everything a little girl in love with princess could want.

Following the show we headed behind the castle for some rides. Our first ride and the one with the shortest line was It's a Small World. Showing my exhaustion I just about fell asleep on the ride. Those little happy singing dancing kids are hypnotic.

Following that we took a few trips on Prince Charming's Carousel. This is when Luke finally broke down. Just getting him off the horse would evoke screams. Part of you would get frustrated with him and the other would feel sorry for the guy.

We called it a day and on the bus back Luke fell asleep on Mom. After the bus ride he slept through dinner in our stroller. This was a welcome relief because we didn't really have a clue on how we were going to feed ourselves. By him sleeping through Mom and I had an enjoyable quiet dinner.

Showing how old we are getting. Mom and I ate roast turkey, potatoes, and broccoli instead of burgers and fries for dinner.

After dinner we headed back to the room to call it an early night. However our pack n play was still not yet delivered! One angry call and 20 minutes later we were in business and asleep by 9:30.


Sunday, June 19, 2011 0 comments
Even though we are still up in the air as I write this the trip has been going ok so far. The trip though airport security was stressful. We were two people trying to get 4 pairs of shoes, carry ons, and a car seat through security. If we bad been there when they were busy I'm guessing we would have had our fair share of eye rolls.

Moving through the airport was easy enough. A coworker let us borrow a rolling car seat that we used to strap Luke into. Moving through the airport was easy getting the car seat on the plane no so much. The seat fit and we got it buckled in. However it put him too far forward so much that he could push on the seat in front of him. Mom was sitting with Luke and was a miracle worker at keeping him happy and not kicking.

Alyce has been a gem the whole time. At six in the morning she's skipping through the airport. Disney World can do that. Sitting on the plane she looked out the window quite a bit and eventually started watching some shows on my phone. Before we even got off the ground we did have a funny moment. She pulled out the emergency pamphlet and started to look it over. She looked so grown up.

Our flight to Orlando had a layover in Atlanta. Our plane landed on time but took a while getting to the gate.

A Rough Start

Today we left for our vacation to Disney World! Every trip starts with a first step and ours began at home.

To get to Disney World we are flying. Better 3 hours in the air than 16 by car. We wanted the kids to be on their best behavior so we got an early flight. By early I mean the plane took off before 7:00. To get ready for all of this Grams spent the night so she could take us to the airport in the morning. We were planning on waking the kids around 4:30 - 4:45. Every good, right? Wrong!

During the night a huge storm blew through. Mom and I were up getting ready while the tail end was overhead. Right as Mom was sitting down to put on her makeup the power goes out. From that moment to when we left we had to use flashlights and iPhones to move around the house. Alyce and Luke both had flashlights in the dark and they were having a blast with them. Mom finished packing, Grams got the kids ready, and I packed up the van. Surprisingly we were only 20 minutes late leaving the house.

We had planned a lot of extra time to get on the plane and we needed it. Our experience at the airport was orderly but we didn't have but five minutes to spare.

Geo Trax, Fight!

Friday, June 17, 2011 0 comments
There is a downside to having a really cool toy; everyone wants to play with it.  That cool toy in our house is our Geo Trax train set and it has become a source of confrontation between our children. Geo Trax first showed on the scene a bit ago and since then there has been some ebb and flow with their interest in it.  If we have them hidden they don't notice they're gone and they don't play with them much.

When we have them out and I build a track then it becomes a free for all.  One child could be playing along nicely and then the other comes in and wants to run a train themselves.  The problem is that a lot of times the trains share the same track and sometimes the same space (read crashes into each other).  When they block each other out either intentional or by accident is where the problems start.  Mom and I understand there will be conflicts but when Alyce and Luke get into it they get loud.  The usual example is Luke knocking Alyce's train off the track as he crawls around.  Alyce then yells "Luke, you are always messing up my stuff!".  Luke responds with a long high pitched scream you could hear a block away.  If they both want the same train, track piece, or anything it only gets worse.  They will both be pulling on it screaming at the top of their lungs.

The whole thing is maddening.  The best way I've found to combat their combat is to create two tracks and make them play by themselves.  Of course if the tracks aren't identical there there is still some room for jealousy.

Oh kids why are you so kid like?

Time For a Big Boy Bed

The time is quickly approaching for Luke to get a big boy bed.  Most mornings Luke is quite content to hang out in his crib for a bit while Mom gets ready for the day.  Last week that nicety ended.  Mom was dozing in our room when she heard a crash from the kid's side of the house.  Rushing into Luke's room she saw that Luke had climbed over and out of his crib.  He didn't hurt himself but it showed that the crib can no longer contain him.

We are lucky that his crib has a little door on the side and at night when Mom checks on him she can open it.  That way in the morning he can get out of bed in a safe way rather than re-enacting a scene from a Spiderman Comic.  We haven't done that yet because I have yet to secure Luke's dresser to the wall.  If  he were to climb up on the open dresser drawers he could pull the whole thing down on top of himself.

Later Bed Time

Even though it isn't official Luke is getting a later bed time.  It seems we are out and about most nights and don't manage to get him to bed until 8:30 or later.  What's even more pleasing is that even though he is past his bedtime of 7:30 he doesn't get cranky.  Some nights when we do get him to bed on time we can still hear him up to an hour later talking to himself and kicking the side of his crib.  We refer to it as he's having a party in his room.

It's probably just as well he's going to bed later.  It make life easier on us knowing that we have more time out at night and don't have to rush him home.  We've pushed him as late as 10:00 and he does okay but we pay for it the next day with a cranky little boy.

Can't Say the Letter T

Monday, June 13, 2011 0 comments
Luke's language is coming along nicely.  His vocabulary is out of this world.  He knows most of his colors, some shapes, and a few animals.  He knows octopus and zebra, circle and triangle, and green, blue, and red as a few good examples. One thing Luke doesn't have a good grasp of is the letter T. Well saying the letter T anyway.  Anytime the letter T comes up in a word he says it silently. A good example is when he says the name of Thomas the Tank Engine it comes out as "Momas". Whenever we drive home we cross a bridge over water and a lagoon. When Luke sees the water he says "waber". After we drive past Luke says "bye bye waber".

Geo Trax

Friday, June 10, 2011 0 comments
One present Luke got for his birthday was a set of Geo Trax.  It was a starter set and while fun it wasn't big enough to keep Luke's attention for long.  Fast forward to about a month ago and we picked up some more sets from Target that were on clearance.  There were enough pieces and parts to reach the critical mass needed for Geo Trax fun.  Seeing how much fun the kids were having with the train and the age of the of toys I figured there would be some up for sale on Craig's List, I was right.  Looking online I found a few bundles for sale.  20 minutes and $50 later we had more track and trains than we knew what to do with.

To explain, Geo Trax are a line of train toys from Fisher Price.  The trains come with tracks, switches, and ramps that snap together and the trains then roll on them. The track requires just enough force to stay together and survive a 2 year old stepping on them.  The tracks and trains have survived multiple drops on concrete and show no wear for their trouble.  The toys aren't cheap but you do get what you pay for.

Last night while Mom was taking Alyce to a dance recital rehearsal I stayed home with Luke and we played with trains. I cleared out a space on the living room floor and set to work.  I don't have a plan when I start building but quickly something takes shape.  Luke, bless his heart will grab a piece from the crate we keep them in, hand it to me, and mumbles something about it.  I usually thank him for his part and try to use it but a lot of times I hide it while he isn't looking.

Both Luke and I like tracks with ramps and bridges so I always try to include a few raised sections.  I'm also a fan of the switch tracks but the kids don't bother with them so they usually stay set to the longest route.  One piece that is indispensable is the orange station.  That piece is there to help set up the trains.  It isn't hard to get a train on the tracks but if you use that thing you can drop all of the cars in a chain the train is guaranteed to be on the tracks when it leaves the station.

With our purchases we picked up 3 remote control trains.  These trains are controlled by a kid friend infrared remote. Each train gets a matching remote and it allows the driver put only their train in forward and reverse. With as much play as they get you'd figure we'd be chewing through batteries but we have yet to change them in a month of usage.  While Alyce and I like the remote control trains Luke is more of a purist and likes to push his around the track. Technically he should be pulling the train around the track to avoid derailments but Luke hasn't figured that part out yet so he does suffer the occasional crash.

When Luke is playing he is a joy to watch. He likes to get down on the trains level as he pushes them by.  I think he gets a lot out of seeing them move past.  Watching him crawl around the set and sticking his arm around pylons is pretty neat.  He is learning lots of good skills doing this like thinking a few steps ahead to get his body into position for where the train will go.  When Luke gets really into it he will be so focused on what he's doing he doesn't notice me anymore and sends the train around and around the loop.

For the $100 or so dollars we've invested in this toy system I'd say we've gotten our monies worth.  The majority of the toys our kids have don't get played with as much as they should.  This is the first one that's really captured their imagination and held it.  It's also a toy that I get as much fun out of as the kids do.