Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Disney/Universal 2013: Day 2

Missed Day 1?  Read about it here.

Once again, since we only had about 6 hours to go on Sunday, we slept in as long as we could.

Growing up, my parents were big proponents of waking up early to go on road trips.  Of course, we usually went on 10-12 hour trips to visit my grandparents in NJ, so getting an early head start was necessary if you wanted to get there while it was still daylight.  We would leave at 6 AM to go on trips, sometimes even earlier.  Tim is not like my Dad in that respect.  If he has the chance to sleep in, he takes it, even if it means driving until the wee hours of the night.  Mostly I'm fine with that philosophy.  I, personally, don't like to drive on the interstate at night, but if Tim is doing the driving then I usually don't mind.  But, back to our story...

We had a continental breakfast in the hotel and left about 10 AM.  We made it to Orlando around 4 and checked into our resort, Pop Century, Disney's celebration of pop culture.  As I told Tim, this hotel is gaudier and more over the top than our last one (Port Orleans, French Quarter), but it's also cheaper :).

The hotel is divided up into buildings by decades: 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's.  We were in an 80's building with Pac-Man on the side.  It was pretty cool.  Here are some of the sculptures we passed on the way to eat every day.

Ah, the Big Wheel.  It reminded Tim of Big Wheel races he had when he was a kid.
 One day at the pool, they had big wheel races with the kids.  It was a nail bitter of girls versus boys.  Despite almost being too big for the thing, Julie helped the girls pull out a win as the anchor driver for the team.  Yay, girls!
Giant fuseball players.
 These pictures of our room were taken the morning we left so please excuse the mess.  We were trying to get everything packed up and the thought occurred to me that I hadn't taken any pictures.  So here they are.

The room wasn't overly big but it worked for us.  I do have to admit that after spending a week in the same room as all the rest of my family, I was ready for my own house again and for children being in their own rooms and for privacy.  At night, we would put the kids to bed, then drag the two chairs into the bathroom area and close the curtain.  Then Tim and I would play on our computers and whisper.  That was as private as it got, people.

I must give a shout out to the best app ever invented - White Noise Lite.  Totally awesome!  You pick your background noise (oscillating fan is our favorite) and voila, sleepy kids.  The kids would be loud and wiggly in bed until we turned that app on and, boom, they were out like a light.  Here's a little tip for you: use your child's tablet to play the white noise and you can make sure they aren't sneaking in Netflix after bedtime.

The pool outside our building.  This was the computer pool.
There was also a flower pool and a bowling pin pool at the resort.
Hard to see, but that's a stack of floppy disks at the end of the pool.
Our kids use our old ones of those to make bases for their Lego people.
The giant Walkman on the side of our building.
Feeling like your back in the 80's yet?
All the stairways were Rubix cubes.  Only one of them was solved.
After a little unpacking, we headed to one of our favorite Disney spots, Downtown Disney.  We did some shopping and ate dinner at the Wolfgang Puck Express.  It was very crowded at Downtown Disney that night, a little unnerving for me.  I was afraid of losing my kids.

Sunday lunch at Cracker Barrel on the road.
Dinner at Wolfgang Puck's in Downtown Disney.
David is showing off his new Disney pin lanyard with a Star Wars pin on it.
That was it for Sunday's entertainment.  We went back after dinner to get lots of sleep before our first day of touring began.  Stay tuned for Monday and Universal Studios.

Read about Day 3.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Disney/Universal 2013: Day 1

Hi guys!  It's been a while.  I could tell you all about my busy Fall as Awana commander and PTA president, but I'll spare you the details...well, at least for now.  That may be a future post.  Instead, I'm here to tell you all about our vacation to Orlando.

This vacation has been a long time coming.  Way back a year ago, in October 2012, we had planned a Disney/Universal vacation.  However, I got really sick and could barely move my right arm.  I was completely miserable at that time so we ended up cancelling the trip, with the promise that we would go in 2013.

I'm happy to say we got to keep that promise.  For the first time ever our school system had a week-long Fall break, the perfect time to plan a sunny, Florida vacation.

The week before we left was absolutely insane.  In one week I had: the Book Fair at school (which I was responsible for finding volunteers for as well as volunteering myself), our Mega Party at school (a bunch of inflatables and kids jumping on them in hour-long stretches at a time all day long - which I was responsible for finding volunteers for as well as volunteering myself), 3 PTA meetings, a dr appt, our van had to go to the shop twice, and (the one fun thing for the week) a hair appointment to get new highlights.  Oh yeah, I also had to squeeze in  packing for 4 people for a week-long trip.  It. Was. Insane.

I was so ready for a vacation.

Saturday arrived and we were very, very excited.  We had decided to take two days to get down there so we didn't need to wake up early to leave.  We slept in a little, packed up the car, went by McDonalds to get breakfast (a vacation tradition) and we were on our way by about 9:30.

And we made it all the Erwin, which if you're not from around here is all of 45 minutes away.  And the check engine light came on in the van.

Just for a little background, the light had come on a week earlier.  I had taken the van into the shop the previous Monday for them to check it.  I was told that we needed a new oil pressure rocker arm switch, whatever the heck that is, and that it needed to be ordered.  So they ordered it and I went back on Friday for them to install it.  I really was trying to have the van safe and ready for our trip.  But as soon as we got out of town that darn light just came back on.

We got off the interstate at an exit and called the shop.  They asked if we were near an Advanced Auto Parts.  Lo and behold, we looked up from the gas station we had pulled into and it was right across the street from an Advanced Auto Parts.  We went over there and they hooked up their handy little code-reading machine-thingy to our van.  It spit out some code saying the van wasn't getting enough oil pressure.  When I called back into the shop to tell them, they highly advised we bring the van in to be checked because if the code was correct, it was a very bad thing.  (I really don't know anything about cars, so I had no clue what it meant.)

So, we turned around, retraced our steps and took the van to the shop.  At that time it was about 11 and Enterprise closed at 12.  They only had one van available since everyone was on Fall break and had rented them out for trips.  If we needed to rent a van for the trip, we needed to know quickly.  I made that very well known at the shop.  They needed to check this van out NOW.  Thankfully, they did.  And they found...nothing.  The oil pressure was fine, the wires were fine, everything was fine except for the stupid little light that was on.  The guy who worked on our van said he would feel comfortable to drive it on a trip.  He felt like it was completely safe.  So we decided to chance it and get on the road again.

I'll ease your mind and tell you that the check engine light was on the whole trip and the van worked just fine the whole trip.  We didn't have any problems at all from it.  We have since taken it back to the shop and they still don't really know what's wrong with it, if anything.  There are reports from other people that a spool valve could stop working intermittently.  However, ours has worked every time they have tested it.  And after I took it in, the light hasn't come back on, even though they didn't really do anything to it.

But it gave us some unnecessary drama that first day.  I do have to brag on my kids though.  They were super patient through the whole thing and never once complained.

Notice the "pillow wall" we had to create between the kids.
We made it to Savannah, GA that first night and spent the night at what must have been Hotel Central for I-95.  I think there were about 25 hotels at that exit.  I had called from the road at 6 to reserve a room and it's a good thing I did.  When we got to our hotel, it was completely booked and the guy at the desk said there was only one hotel at the exit with any rooms left.  He said it was like that every weekend.  So if you are traveling and want to stay at the Savannah exit on I-95, be sure to call ahead.

Ready for more?  Read Day 2 here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's my birthday and I'm not too old to tell the world.
I'm 35.
Officially in my mid-30's.
I already got my license renewed, which is good because who knows if that government function would be open today or not.

Anyway, I have a fun day of vegging on the computer, then lunch with Tim, then a massage at 1.  Relaxation.  Of course, that all ends when school gets out because Julie has to go get a filling at the dentist, then David has Cub Scouts and of course, teachers still assign homework.  And, yes, my kids do the homework, but I spend the afternoon going back and forth between kids answering questions, spelling words, reminding them of the homework they have left, saying "No" when they ask to have screen time and generally supervising.  Homework is definitely as much work on the parents as it is on the kids.

As a birthday gift to me, you can indulge me as I show off some recent family photos.

Tim and David are ready to watch Tennessee win in football.

Crazy hair night at church.
She wouldn't let us put it up in a wacky style but allowed a little color.

Of course, she had fun making my hair colorful.

A little color is as wacky as I get.

David's crazy hair.

David's reading spot.  He even reads there when he's not supposed to...
like when he's supposed to be sleeping there.  Anyway, see that big 'ole book?
He's the last family member to read all the Harry Potter books.  (He's on #4.)
Hope you have a wonderful Oct. 1!