Sunday, August 31, 2008

Vacation Days 17, 18, 19 (The End)

Before I post what I wrote on the last 3 days of our vacation, I want to bring your attention to a new blog I have recently begun reading. It's Called "It's a Disney World After All." If you aren't big into the Disney stuff, you probably won't care about this blog, but if you are at all interested or are planning an upcoming trip, you may want to check it out! I love reading the updates about what is going on in the Disney Community. Also, I am still a big fan of a podcast called "Be Our Guest." Bruce and I will be on the show one week from tomorrow discussing the cruise leg of our recent vacation. You'll have to tune in! I will remind you then. Anyway, for now, here are the last pics from our vacation (finally!). The above picture is of course B1 and B2 with the Cat in the Hat. These pictures were taken at Universal's Islands of Adventure.The Grinch and me at some store in Seuss Landing, which was a very cool place!
This picture was taken in the morning, before we went to the park. We did a character breakfast at the Nickelodeon Hotel. That's Bruce and Little Bill!
Our family with Spongebob Squarepants!
The girls and Dora the Explorer. B2 claims she no longer likes Dora, but I think she really does still just a little bit!

August 5, 2008: The alarm went off this morning at 7:00 and we got up, showered, dressed, and down to the Nick Toons Café to eat lunch with the characters at 8:00am. The meal was a buffet and was pretty good. The characters in attendance were Spongebob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer, Wanda and Cosmo from the Fairly Oddparents, and Little Bill. The girls got their pictures taken with all of them and we got a family picture taken with Spongebob. We took a shuttle today from our hotel to Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure. We arrived there about 10:30am. We covered pretty much the entire park, starting with Seuss Landing and heading around counterclockwise. I liked this park better than Universal Studios. It had more thrill rides and seemed more like an actual amusement park. We did get B2 to ride a ride where they take you 15 stories in the air and then drop you. We all rode it twice! We ate lunch in the Jurassic Park section of the park at a burger place and ate dinner outside the park in the City Walk area at a pizza place. We bought some final souvenirs before boarding the bus back to our hotel at 7:15. Once back, we came up to the room and packed as much as we could tonight. Bruce and the girls took things to the car and at 9:30, we attended a family game show type of thing in the Nick Studio. It only lasted about 30 minutes. Bruce and the girls finished off their arcade card while I came back to the room to type this! It’s about 11:00pm right now and just about time for bed. Tomorrow begins the drive home. I am ready to get there and see Shinza. I am not ready for the unpacking process!

August 6, 2008: We got up at 8:00 this morning, showered, finished packing a few things, ate the rest of the Cinnabon rolls (and B1 had a pop tart) for breakfast, checked out of the Nick Hotel, and got on the road. Before we actually got on the highway, Bruce decided he “needed” to have a Chic-Fil-A breakfast sandwich so we went through their drive-thru. Bruce drove the first 200 miles, to the Florida/Georgia border and then I took over for about 275 miles. We stopped for gas and snacks once and it happened to be at one of the same gas stations we stopped at on the way down to Florida over two weeks ago. Small world. Anyway, I drove through Atlanta during rush hour. We took the bypass but it was still full of traffic. Just on the other side, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant for dinner, which tasted good since we love Mexican food and haven’t eaten it in over two weeks now! So we drove for awhile after dinner and we were about 20 miles from the Tennessee border when we hear this loud noise coming from the back driver’s side tire. We pulled over on the interstate and checked it and found that the first layer of tread had completely torn off. Bruce said he saw it fly out the back side of the van through the rearview mirror. At first, we thought we ran over one left on the road from a semi truck. So we then drove slowly to the next exit (the tire wasn’t flat but still did not look good) and found a Wal-Mart with an automotive center but it had closed at 7:00pm and it was now 8:07pm. We ended up at a Sears automotive store that closed at 9:00. We called and asked them to stay late for us, which they did, and we didn’t leave there until 9:48. We gave both the guys working a pretty nice tip for helping us out. So anyway, then we drove for maybe 45 more minutes. We are now in Chattanooga, TN staying at a Country Inn and Suites. This is a very nice room, probably the biggest so far on the vacation! Bruce and B2 decided they are hungry and went to the Waffle House on the other side of the parking lot! Gees! We will be going to bed shortly.
August 7, 2008: Today we had breakfast at the hotel. It was a pretty nice little spread that came with the cost of the room. We then got on the road towards home. The first time we stopped for gas was in Kentucky and we discovered that there is a problem with the hose (tube) that carries the gas from the side of the van to the actual tank. We think it is some sort of complication that happened with the tire last night. We were able to finagle and got the gas into the tank, but had to leak maybe half a gallon onto the pavement at the gas station. We informed the attendant there and they took care of the spill. What a mess. We got a snack at that gas station and then kept driving. When we reached Mt. Vernon, IL at about 3:00pm, we stopped at Taco Bell for a small meal. We picked up Shinza from the animal hospital (she's not sick, that's just where she boarded while we were gone) about 4:30pm and headed for home! We drove around town and saw some big changes at the school that took place while we were gone. Mom and Dad came over to visit for a short while and we worked the rest of the evening on laundry, unpacking, etc. We drove a total of 2220 miles on this vacation. It is good to be home!
Side note: After we got home, we had the van inspected by a friend and family member. They believe that the problem with the gas tank happened when the tire tread flew around the tire and smacked into this hose (tube), causing it to come loose. Together, they were able to fix it at no cost to us! Thank goodness we know some people who know something about cars!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Another Stolen Meme

This time I stole it from Carmen over at Live, Laugh, Love Everyday. Like I've said before, I just love these things!

1. What time did you get up this morning? 9:30am (it's the LAST day of summer vacation for me, so I took advantage!)

2. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Swing Vote

4. What is your favorite TV show? Grey's Anatomy and reruns of FRIENDS

5. What do you usually have for breakfast? a cereal bar or trail mix cookie

6. What is your middle name? Ann

7. What food do you dislike? good question.....I'm not sure I've met one yet, but I have never tried beets for fear that I won't like them

8. What is on your ipod at the moment? 80's, country, and stuff that is often played on Radio Disney

9. What kind of car do you drive? 1998 Ford Windstar (yeah, it's old and I'm excited to get a new one.....but for now, this one is worth soooo much more to us than anyone else and since it's paid off, I am going to drive it into the ground.....I'm hoping to get another year out of it)

10. Favorite sandwich? Jimmy John's Big John

11. What characteristic do you despise? people who think they are better than others

12.Favorite item of clothing? hoodies in the winter

13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? I love, love, love vacations and love going to places I have never been. I really don't care where it is, if it's vacation, I'm gonna love it!

14. Favorite brand of clothing? Cato and Fashion Bug

15. Where would you retire? close to wherever my kids are at that time

16. What was your most recent memorable birthday? my 40th, this past May. I spent an entire weekend partying it up! Read about it here.

17.Favorite sport to watch? Baseball

18. Favorite TV show when you were a child? Little House on the Prairie

19. Pets? Shiba Inu named Shinza. I'd have more dogs if Bruce would allow it. But we LOVE the one we have!

20.When is your birthday? May 30

21.What is your shoe size? 10

22.Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? Not really. School starts for the kids on Tuesday.

23. What did you want to be when you were little? A nurse. I changed to a teacher during my high school years.

24. How are you today? Fine, thank you.

25. What is your favorite candy? Katherine Beich caramel bars

26. What is your favorite flower? Tulips.

27. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? Friday.....the first "Football Friday" of the season!

28. Do you get along with your parents? Yes, very well. Thank goodness for them in my life!

29. What are you listening to right now? B2 and a friend down the hall trying to make animal noises (really!)

30. What was the last thing you ate? a bowl of corn/wheat chex for breakfast

31. Do you wish on stars? No, maybe I should though.

32. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Red.

33. How is the weather right now? Pretty nice for the midwest in August. I think the high today is supposed to be 87.

34. Favorite Restaurants? Talayna's, Cheesecake Factory, Spaghetti Factory, Lion's Choice, Taco Bell

35. Favorite soft drink: Coke

36. Real hair color? Brown.

37. What was your favorite toy as a child? Barbies

38. Summer or winter? summer

39. Hugs or kisses? Hugs

40. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate except for ice cream

41. Coffee or tea? yuck.....neither!

42. Any little known talents? I can sometimes tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue!

43. When was the last time you cried? I teared up on July 27 when we boarded the Disney Wonder and they announced our family's name as if we were royalty.

44. What is under your bed? boxes of cards and drawing from the girls as well as some old pictures.

45. What did you do last night? Cooked dinner and went to B2's brand new school for a "getting to know you" sort of evening. The building is beautiful!

46. What are you afraid of? snakes

47. Salty or sweet? bitter or hot? salty, sweet, and somewhat hot

48. How many keys on your key ring? 5

49. How many years at your current job? This will be my 11th year

50. Favorite day of the week? Friday

51. How many towns have you lived? 4

52. Do you make friends easily? Yes

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Last Blast

Warning: lots of pictures coming!!! We hosted a scavenger hunt and pool party for several of B1 and B2's friends last night. I think a good time was had by all. We decided to call it "The Last Blast" (before school begins). The party began at 3:00pm and by 3:15, everyone was here except one girl who had a soccer game and arrived later. There were 23 girls so we grouped them into 4 teams of 6 each (one team had only 5). We had 4 "coaches" who were the adults that followed along and each team had a list of 44 items they had to try to go find. Between all the teams, we probably knocked on the doors of just about every house in our little town! We gave the teams a 1.5 hour time limit. If they weren't back within the required time, they were disqualified.

Here is a picture of B2 and a friend filling up water balloons earlier in the day. These are the teams with their "coach."
Below is the team that ended up winning. They were very competitive and found ALL of the items on the list! According to their coach, the girls pretty much ran for the entire 1.5 hours!
Ths list of items included:
1. 1993 penny
2. blue ribbon
3. empty Mountain Dew can
4. piece of sidewalk chalk
5. green button
6. red ink pen
7. stuffed animal (cat)
8. Werther’s original candy
9. red Dairy Queen plastic spoon
10. yellow highlighter
11. baseball card
12. clean baby diaper
13. artificial rose
14. chocolate tootsie pop
15. purple pencil
16. 8-track tape
17. pair of pink socks
18. 9-volt battery
19. play money
20. Reader’s Digest magazine
21. bow tie
22. orange hair clip
Below, B1 is in this picture
23. Christmas napkin
24. white glove
25. #7 birthday candle
26. matchbox car
27. some Cheerios in a baggie
28. Pizza Hut coupon
29. Hawaiian lei
30. picture of a boat
31. Monopoly hotel
32. clothespin
33. pipe cleaner (any color)
34. lid from a plastic Pepsi bottle
35. comic book
36. small plastic army man
37. popsicle stick
38. child’s wooden block
39. seashell
40. bendable straw
41. 2005 calendar
42. used airline ticket
43. red plastic ruler
44. picture of a boat
Below, this was my team. B2 is in this picture also.
While we were out scouring the town, Hubby was back at home setting up an obstacle course. It included shooting a basketball, jumping over some "hurdles," running with a balloon between your legs, sliding down our slip-n-slide, dribbling with a ball, soccer style, through some upside down buckets, swinging over a mud pit (we had a buy a cheap blow-up swimming pool just for this purpose!), sliding down the slide on the swingset, and then crab walking backwards until you crossed a line spraypainted in the grass. Below is a picture of the winner of the "4th grade and under" category.
Below here is a picture of the "5th grade and up" category. They are both very athletic young ladies.
These gals have already completed the obstacle course and are now watching their friends!
Oops! Although I regret not getting a good picture of the mud pit itself, here is one of its casulties!
After the winners were declared on the obstacle course, we had dinner! I chose to serve kid-friendly food which included hot dogs, corn, mac-n-cheese, various kinds of chips, and friendship bread. B1 requested the friendship bread a couple of weeks ago specifically for this party, so I had to go online and find a starter recipe. The bread was definitely a hit and both loaves I had baked earlier in the day were devoured. Later in the evening, we also had ice cream bars.

After dinner, we also did a water balloon toss. I was participating in this, so didn't get any pictures!
Finally, it was swimming time. The weather was so humid yesterday and into the evening that I'm sure the pool felt wonderful. I didn't get in myself. Later in the evening, the hot tub was a hit as well. Here is a picture of my friend's son, who is 3, hanging out with all the girls. I told her that someday when he turns 16, we should have this picture printed in the local newspaper!

We gave out prizes of $5 (whoo-hoo, dont' try to spend it all at once, huh?!) Wal-Mart gift cards to the winners of the scavenger hunt, obstacle course, and water balloon toss. The ages of the girls here ranged from 7 to 15 and it appeared that everyone enjoyed themselves!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

These Last Few Weeks

I am thoroughly enjoying these last days of summer. In the district where I teach (and where my kids attend school), we are at the end of a construction phase for 3 new buildings. The work on these buildings began close to 2 years ago and is now finally almost complete. But, because of said construction, last school year began very early and ended very early. This school year starts very late. The reason for all of this calendar confusion is so that this summer (2008) could be as long as possible in order to get old buildings torn down and parking lots built in their place.

So.....many of my teacher friends and neighboring districts began school either last week or this week. Not me. I don't go back until next Thursday and my students won't show up until the day after Labor Day. Therefore, my daughters and I will have 3 weeks more of summer vacation than my husband. Never mind the fact that come May, he will be done waaaaaay before we are but like I said, for now, I am enjoying this! It seems that every year, the girls' ball season begins around Mother's Day. The season ends about the 3rd week in July. We have always planned family vacations for the last week of July and first week of August. We did the same this year. Then we get home from vacation, get unpacked, and usually shortly thereafter, start school. However, this year I have been given a little extra time to just unwind. No ball games at night to rush to, no quickie meals that must be eaten by 4:30 so that the food has time to settle before the game, etc. Just us and a leisurly 3 weeks off between the end of vacation and the school year beginning! It's been nice.

I am, however, getting into a really bad rut of staying up way too late and sleeping in. Today, I seriously didn't get out of bed until 10:50am! Well, I did get up and go exercise with a friend at 5:00. I didn't go to bed last night until 1:15am either. So I went back to bed this morning at 6:30 and slept until 10:50. I have got to get my schedule adjusted back to a "normal" bedtime. I just love the nights though! Everyone else is in bed (like right now) and it's "my" time. I love this time and when I don't feel tired, I like to stay up!

I have also fallen into a rut of not fixing my hair or putting on much make-up. I have actually gotten a couple of compliments on my hair too! Weird. I've just been washing it, putting in some gel, and letting it air dry while I brush it a couple more times. The other day, I had no make-up on at all. We went to lunch at Dairy Queen. I also had my glasses on (didn't put in my contacts that day) and when I went into the restroom and glanced at myself in the mirror, I decided I really did look rather scary! The sun has given my skin enough color though that I don't really need much make-up on my face. My eyes look bad without at least something though.

I've enjoyed staying up late watching the Olympics too. Those Jamaicans sure can run, can't they? Wow. Alright, well, it's 11:35. I am off to bed. I promised myself that I would be in bed tonight before midnight. Tomorrow maybe I'll make it 11:30, and so forth. I gotta get back into a school sort of routine! Goodnight!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fundraiser for Theo

Friday night, I worked at a fundraiser for my student Theo. I blogged about him earlier this summer after I found out he has cancer. Along with marking items for the silent auction and counting 50/50 tickets, I worked the beer table at the fundraiser! I have seriously not worked with a keg of beer since college. I had some problems with the foam and when it looked like an "experienced" beer drinker was the customer, I asked them if they wanted to use the tap themselves and get their own beer. That way, if the foam was HUGE, it wouldn't be my fault! Ha ha! It all worked out. We didn't make much money on beer though. The 50/50 drawing went great. The person who won had written on their ticket "donate back" so the family got all the $$$ from that. B2 went along with me and convinced me to purchase a little fountain/lawn decoration sort of thing from the silent auction. We still need to find a place to put it. I saw some of my favorite students from last year and it sort of put me in the mood to get back to school. I will still say though, I am sooooo not ready to get up early! Oh my gosh, I do love my sleep. But I am ready to get back into a routine with myself and my daughters, and I am ready for "Football Fridays," as is B1.

As far as Theo's prognosis, he looks great and seems to be doing well. I am told that his kind of cancer is 80-90% curable, especially when diagnosed young like he is. It looks as if he is going to have to be home-bound at the beginning of the school year but hopefully will be back in the halls of THS soon.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Vacation Days 14, 15, 16

Bruce and me posing for a picture in Mickey's Toon Town Fair.
B2 wtih all the ketchup bottles at the Whispering Canyon Cafe!
With Shrek at Universal Studios.
This was in the New York section of Universal. I loved how everything looked so real!
The girls' Fairly Oddparents room at the Nickelodeon Hotel
The main pool at the Nickelodeon Hotel.
Wow! They are actually holding hands! ha ha!
The bucket of slime (really just green water) being dumped!
B1 after she got hit by the "slime."

August 2, 2008: We got up about 8:30 today and took showers, etc. We headed up to the food court and ate a late breakfast and then waited for the Vincents to arrive. They met us up front in the main building near the gift shop at about 11:00 and we all headed to the Magic Kingdom. Their son, Hayden, who is 3 years old, wanted to see Pooh and Mickey Mouse. (Last night, after they had told us what they wanted to do today, I went to the front desk at our hotel to add another day to our current park tickets (because we were out of theme park days). Guess how much it cost? $3 per person! Yeah! Really!!! How cool is that?) We rode the train to Mickey’s Toontown Fair and got pictures taken with Mickey and Minnie. We then rode the Winnie the Pooh ride and waited to meet Pooh and Tigger. We also went to see Mickey’s Philharmagic show. We then headed over to Space Mountain and Bruce, Patrick, B1, B2, and I all rode the ride. We left the park a little after 4:00pm because we had dinner reservations at the Wilderness Lodge at a restaurant called Whispering Canyon Café. We took the boat from the Magic Kingdom to get there. It was a pretty neat place. The servers are sort of rude but in a fun way. Once, Bailey was across the room playing in a little play area and our waitress yelled across the restaurant for her to come to dinner! Very funny! Also, when they bring the napkins and straws to the table, they just throw them all in a big heap at you! And the funniest part: when someone asks for ketchup, your server yells across the restaurant that ketchup is needed at a particular table. Then everyone in the restaurant who has a bottle of ketchup at their table brings it to you! We had 16 bottles of ketchup at our table at one point! After dinner, we all came back here to our hotel and Bruce, B1, B2, Patrick, and Hayden all swam in the pool near our room (there are 3 pools here). I did some laundry and LeAnne fed Lilly and then just hung out by the pool with me. They left at about 9:15pm to head back home. Right now, it is 11:30pm and Bruce and the girls are at the arcade but I believe are headed back here soon. Tomorrow we check out of Disney. L

August 3, 2008: We woke up at 8:30 today, got ready, and left Walt Disney World. I was actually ready to leave. I think we’ve seen and done just about everything I could want to do for now. There will always be more things to experience in the future (more restaurants to try, new rides, new Disney adventures). We went to McDonald’s for breakfast and I actually had lunch. This McDonald’s was nothing like we have ever seen. Not only did they have the normal menu, but also a gourmet menu and hard ice cream as well as a HUGE game room. Supposedly, it was the biggest McDonald’s in the world. We then headed for Universal Studios. The cost to get in there was totally crazy. I am not going to say how much it was but I have never paid that much for an amusement park before. We got 2-day passes (so we can go to Islands of Adventure either tomorrow or Wednesday) and we also got the special pass where you can go in the “fast” line for every ride, sort of like Disney’s FastPass. Having that pass turned out to be pretty worthwhile. We rode pretty much everything. The Mummy ride was the favorite but honestly, I wasn’t real impressed with the whole place. Maybe it was because the movies and TV shows they featured were some that I wasn’t really interested in. I am glad we went, but it won’t be a place I feel that I need to return to. After leaving the park around 8:00pm, we walked through Universal’s City Walk (between the two amusement parks) and chose to eat dinner at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. We had never eaten at one of those restaurants and it was pretty yummy! We stopped at Walgreen’s to get some medicine for B1 because she has somehow picked up a cold in the past 2 days and then finally, arrived at the Nickelodeon Hotel. The girls have been looking forward to this hotel for quite awhile now. Our suite has a living room, small kitchenette, bathroom, master bedroom with a queen bed, and a kid’s room with 2 twin beds. There are 3 TVs too! I don’t know for sure what we are going to do tomorrow yet but I do know that the bed will feel good tonight!
August 4, 2008: We slept LATE today. B2 didn’t wake up until like 11am! But she needed it. We had bought some Cinnabon rolls last night while at Universal’s City Walk and had those for breakfast, which were yummy! Then we headed for the pool. We went first to the large pool, which is a little further away from our room. We found a chair on which to put our towels, etc. and then got into the water. We relaxed and swam until about 1:30 when we came inside to the food court for lunch at Subway. Then it was back to the pool for the afternoon. At 4:45, they fill the big bucket above the play area with green “slime” (really just green water) and the kids stand under it, waiting to be “slimed.” Bruce stood with B2 a little too far back so they did not get any slime on them but B1 did get some. I took pictures and got 3 pretty good ones of the water splashing out of the bucket. Then I took a close-up of B1 but you have to look pretty close to see the green water droplets on her face. We then opted to head for the smaller pool, closer to our room. Around 7:00, we again went inside and ate dinner at the food court, this time purchasing food from Pizza Hut. Then we played a little while in the game room before coming up to the room about 9:00. It was nice just lounging around the room, watching TV, and relaxing. We all went to bed about 11:00

Monday, August 11, 2008


Like I said in my previous post, I went scrapbooking on Saturday.....and I had a great time! With good friends and good food, who can't have a great time? We were asked to bring a side dish/snack along with us, so here are the two items I took: The first was a recipe I took from Katie's blog for Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Salad. Very yummy. I love the way these three ingredients blend together.
But honestly, the hit of the day was these little Heaven-In-Your-Mouth treats! CHOCOLATE COVERED COOKIE DOUGH BALLS. Oh my GAWD!!! If you are a chocolate lover, these are to die for! And they are so easy to make! Really.
1 stick butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 pkg. chocolate bark
Combine butter and sugar until creamy. Add sweetened condensed milk until blended. Add flour and finally chocolate chips. Drop by small spoonfuls onto wax paper lined cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet in refrigerator for 1-2 hours or until dough is hard.
Melt chocolate bark in microwave. You can either try to coat the entire cookie dough ball in the chocolate or do what I did and just drizzle chocolate over the top (it's easier my way). Place back in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes until chocolate sets.
These are the pages I completed on Saturday. I am sorry the pictures are small. I should have uploaded them all as large pictures but I was experimenting with blogger and I still haven't quite figured things out. I'll need to ask someone with more computer expertise than I! If you would like to see one of the images up closer, just click on it!
These first two pages are from christmas 2007. I sometimes get to the point where I hate scrapbooking Christmas pictures because I run out of ideas!
These two pages are of B1's 5th grade basketball season. She did well this year and showed improvement.
The next two pages are of our dog, Shinza, who we all love very much!

And finally a page of B1's spelling Bee back in February. We were very proud of her.

Poor B2. She kind of got shunned this time around, but she has her fair share of pages in my scrapbooks as well, just not this time! Ha ha!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Stolen Meme

I am taking a break from the vacation review and I am stealing this meme from my friend Becky. I know she doesn't mind! I'll finish the vacation stuff soon.

I am: going scrapbooking tomorrow and I am darn excited about it!

I think: I have gained back much of the weight I lost last year, but I am afraid to actually get on the scale and check.

I thank: God for giving me and Bruce two healthy, beautiful daughters.

I know: how to follow a recipe successfully.

I wish: that losing weight was easier.

I hate: the Chicago Cubs and when people think that the Triad School District is exclusively for Troy residents.

I miss: my dog Barney.

I feel: excited about displaying our vacation photos.

I shop: at Wal-Mart. A lot.

I hear: the TV in the living room but no one is in there watching it. It's midnight and they are all in bed now.

I crave: Taco Bell's burrito supreme (not right now though but oftentimes when I am wanting something from a fast food restaurant, this is what it is!).

I wonder: who is going to win the presidential election.

I dream: some weird dream that I am back in college and halfway through the semester, I realize that I haven't gone to some class at all yet. I panic and try to get to the class and act like I know what has been going on the entire time. It's too late to drop the class too. Then I wake up and am so thankful it was only a dream.

I love: wedding cake with lots of icing.

I care: when I know people are going through depression or anxiety, because I have been there.

I always: wear my wedding ring, day and night.

I celebrate: our dating anniversary. Still. March 26, 1988.

I sing: songs that my kids like and make up different words for them. They hate it!

I cry: not nearly as often as I used to (thanks to Zoloft).

I don't always: brush my teeth before going to bed (me either Becky!).

I write: checks to pay our bills. No online stuff for me (yet).

I pray: to God and ask him to bless many people, including friends and former students.

I lose: whenever Bruce and I thumb wrestle.

I listen: to country music and 80's music. I also listen when other people talk and I remember most of what they said. Sometimes people are amazed when months later, I stop them mid-story to let them know that I know what they are going to say.

I am scared: of snakes.

I dance: when I hear a favorite catchy song like "Shook Me All Night Long", "I Wanna Dance with Somebody", or "Celebration."

I need: all my friends in my life.

I surf: Disney websites a lot.

I dread: school starting, simply because I don't want to get up early again!

I anticipate: school starting because I look forward to getting to know my new students and seeing the ones from last year.

I laugh: often at Bruce's goofy humor.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Vacation Days 11,12,13

July 30: B1 and B2 standing in the atrium of the ship. Behind them is Triton's Restaurant and next to them is a statue of the Little Mermaid. This is on deck 3. I took the picture from Deck 4.
July 30: Bruce and me at a picture spot on Castaway Cay. Obviously, the ship is behind us. It sort of looks like a postcard, doesn't it? B1 took this picture.
July 30: Last year on vacation at Cedar Point on Lake Eerie, we wrote in the sand "The Franks 2007." We planned to do the same this year but honestly, there just wasn't enough room to write it all. So we opted just for the year. The sand was not smooth in a big enough space for us to write more than that!
July 30: The girls with captain Mickey Mouse!
Aug. 1: At Epcot outside The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavillion.
Aug. 1: In the United Kingdom section of Epcot. All of us wearing our Cardinal shirts!
July 30, 2008: As I said last night, we slept late today. I didn’t get up until almost 9:30! We headed to Parrot Cay for breakfast and then out onto Castaway Cay. We had snorkel equipment reserved so we picked it up and headed for the ocean. We had to go pretty far out but finally saw some fish and underwater sunken items that Disney had planted there. We saw a submarine, a ship, an anchor, and a statue of Minnie Mouse as well as a lot of fish. It was pretty cool. After turning in the snorkel equipment, we headed back to Cookie’s BBQ for lunch. The menu today was similar to Monday but yet a little different. I didn’t eat any meat but only had pasta salad, Caesar salad, and tomato/cucumber salad. They were all really tasty. They also had the ice cream machine going and the fresh fruit bar. We walked to a different part of the beach today to find some bigger shells. We finally headed back to the ship and to our stateroom around 4:15. We got cleaned up for dinner, which tonight was in Triton’s restaurant. Before we actually went to dinner though, we went to purchase a few of the pictures that have been taken of us on the ship throughout the past 4 days. One is of the 4 of us at night with the ship in the background and the moon shaped like Mickey. One is of the girls in front of the ship during the daytime. The other was taken of the 4 of us one night at dinner. Our servers have been wonderful during the entire cruise and we will miss them. Dinner tonight was French and the entrée I had was awesome. I can’t remember the name of it but it had scallops, spinach, mashed potatoes, cheese/cream sauce, and a little asparagus in it. Yum. For dessert, I had crème brulee which even Bruce liked! Earlier today, we opted to cancel our reservations for Palo, the adult-only restaurant on the ship. We did so for a couple reasons: we didn’t want to miss the last night with our servers and also, the main reason I made the reservation for Palo was so that Bruce and I could have a nice “fancy” dinner. Well the dinners we have been having the entire cruise have been more fancy than I am used to. And that is good enough for us! After dinner, we went to the gift shop to take care of our last minute purchases and then to the kids area for the last time to drop off B&B for about an hour. We finished packing the room and placed our large bags out into the hall to be picked up. At 10:00pm, the four of us attended a short program called “Until We Meet Again” which featured ALL of the characters. It was pretty neat because they sang the Mickey Mouse “See Ya Real Soon” song, which actually made me tear up. This cruise has been wonderful. Everyone is just so nice all the time and they go out of their way to make you happy. It will be hard to beat. We are headed to bed now. Tomorrow, we are supposed to be at breakfast at 7:00am (where we will see our servers one last time) and then off the ship by 8:00am.
July 31, 2008: We had breakfast this morning at 7:00 in Triton’s and saw our servers one last time. We had already given them their tips last night but today, we took a picture with them before we left. We got off the ship about 8:00 and our luggage was waiting for us inside the terminal. Someone helped us bring it to the car and off we were back to Orlando. We headed for Blizzard Beach. Once there, we rode the family raft ride, the big tall Slush Gusher ride, and played in the kids’ area when it began raining. Eventually, they shut down all the rides and many people left the park. Many others sought cover under the pavilions around the park. We finally decided that we thought we would leave and then the rain let up a little bit. So, we decided to stay. Finally, we bought some lunch and right when we got done eating it, they announced that the park was open again…..YAY!!! So we headed to the rides we hadn’t ridden yet. They have some toboggan rides there that are really good! We didn’t leave the park until about 7:00pm. There was a McDonald’s nearby and it really tasted good after having eaten Disney food for the past 10 days. Then we headed to Pop Century and checked in. We are staying in the 90’s section. After bringing the bags up to the room, we walked around the resort a little just to see everything and then went to the gift shop and food court in order to get acquainted there as well. Now, it is 11:00pm and we are headed to bed. I am tired!
August 1, 2008: We slept until the maid knocked on our door this morning at 9:15. After showering, etc., we ate breakfast (B1 actually ate lunch) at the hotel food court (which is much larger and busier than the one at Caribbean Beach. I had a waffle with the Pop Century logo in it and it was very yummy. We arrived at Epcot just before noon. We headed straight to Soarin’ to get the FastPasses and then to the Seas with Nemo and Friends. We first rode the Nemo ride which was cute and then watched the show called “Turtle Talk with Crush” which was also very cute. Then we headed to Spaceship Earth and just in time too because it started to rain. We were pretty much protected from the rain the entire time we were in line. They have changed the ride a bit since the last time I rode it and it is nice (but it was back then too). The rain slowed to a drizzle by the time we exited Spaceship Earth. Anyway, we then decided to head to Test Track and we assumed the line would be over an hour so we were just gonna suck it up and wait. But, the single rider line only said 40 minutes, so we decided to go that route, explaining to the girls that it meant we would not be in the car together. As it turned out, we only waited 15 minutes before boarding the ride and I was in the same car with B1 while Bruce was in the same car with B2. Perfect. We weren’t next to each other but right in front/back of each other. So we rode it again once we were through the first time! Then we went back to the Land and rode Soarin’, which was awesome and then we rode Living with the Land. It’s a ride that I know I rode on my first trip to Epcot in the early 80’s and it’s sort of a nostalgic “must” for me when we are at Epcot. I remember that back then, there was some sort of vegetable band that played music or something and also I think I remember a song that went “just listen to the land.” I bought a stuffed broccoli (like a stuffed animal) that had sunglasses and a big nose on that trip. On the way home, my dad let me hang him from the rearview mirror. Memories. Anyway, we then went over to the Imagination pavilion and watched “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” which I also always love. We were then ready to walk through World Showcase. We visited Canada and United Kingdom and the girls decided they were going to get smashed pennies from each country in the World Showcase. We had to head back to Canada because we had dinner reservations at LeCellier Steakhouse at 6:30pm. The food was good but pricey ($90 total with tip). I had a tomato salad and mushroom pasta while Bruce had prime rib. The girls both had pizza and cheese soup (which this restaurant is supposedly known for). We then headed back out and visited the remainder of the countries in order around World Showcase. They were: France, Morocco, Japan, United States, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, and Mexico. We weren’t able to get smashed pennies in China or Morocco but we did so in every other country. I really enjoyed walking around those countries. I know that 4 years ago when we were here, we only made it halfway around. This time, we saw them all and it’s amazing just how much they really do look like the actual country that they represent. Not that I have visited these places in person but I like learning about other cultures and I like history so I have seen many pictures of foreign lands and do know a little bit about them. We saw the beginning of Illuminations but opted to head for the exit to beat the crowds. We rode the bus back to Pop Century and played some games in the arcade. We are excited because our friends, the Vincent family, are coming here from the Tampa area tomorrow to spend the day with us!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Vacation Days 8,9,10

July 27: Here are B1 and B2 at the send-off party on the ship, just before we embarked.
July 27: Checking out the ocean before dinner on night #1. I think that is a picture on the wall behind them reflecting in the window.
July 28: B2 loved the slide at the kids' pool. See the big Mickey hand holding it up?
July 28: Dinner on night #2 at Parrot Cay. It was Pirate Night. These are our servers, Vesko, Candice, and Kerry.
July 29: The ship docked in Nassau alongside 2 other cruise ships. Ours is the one on the right.
July 29: They got to interact with a dolphin while at Nassau. We bought the professional portrait of this photo.
July 29: The staff celebrated our 15th anniversary (which was actually July 24) while onboard. We were served this cake on night #3 at dinner. That is a chocolate ship on top!

July 27, 2008: We slept a little later today and Bruce went to get breakfast from the food court around 10am. We left Caribbean Beach by 10:30am to head to Port Canaveral. We stopped for gas and a few little items we needed and then were on our way. The check-in process was easy since I had taken care of a lot of it online and earlier in the week at our hotel. We were walking onto the ship by 12:30pm. They announced our family’s name as we entered, which was cool! We looked around a little bit and then headed to the lunch buffet. After, we were able to get into our stateroom, which is pretty neat. The girls have bunk beds, the bottom of which turns into a couch during the daytime. The top bunk somehow slides into the ceiling but we are unsure how it works. The staff comes and takes care of everything while we eat dinner! Pretty cool. Anyway, Bruce and I have a queen bed. We also have 2 small bathrooms. Both have a sink and one has a toilet while the other has a shower. We went to the send-off party, which was hot but cool and then we came back to get ready for our 5:45 dinner. Tonight we were scheduled to eat at Animator’s Palate. At the beginning of the meal, the walls and pictures were all black and white as well as the vests on the servers. During the meal, the pictures on the wall change colors and eventually, by the dessert course, the vests on the servers are colorful. Our server’s name is Vesko and he is from Bulgaria. Candice is the assistant server and she is from England. Kerry is the head server (there are two of them in the entire dining room) and he is from Jamaica. They were all very nice. The food was awesome too. I took pictures of my appetizer, salad, and main course. I forgot to take one of the dessert. Oh well. After dinner, the girls and I went to play bingo but we didn’t win. It was a fun experience though. Bruce had a massage in the spa. We checked the girls into the kids’ activity area and we then went to a couples trivia show, which was hilarious! The girls didn’t want to leave the kid area so we waited until close to midnight to check them out. Now, it is almost 12:30 and B2 is hungry so we just ordered room service pizza! It is free so what the heck?!? I am going to bed. I get to parasail tomorrow!!!!
July 28, 2008: We woke up this morning about 9:00am and got ready to get off the ship. My parasailing appointment was for 10:00. We got off onto Castaway Cay and thankfully, the parasailing place was very close to the ship. I was the first one in the group to go up and it was awesome! Very quiet and peaceful up there and you can see the whole island. The boat ride while everyone else took their turn was good too. I met Bruce and the girls afterwards on the beach (they weren’t allowed to ride along in the boat). We swam in the ocean for a little while and then went to watch some crab races! Our family was drawn to cheer for one of the crabs and our crab won the first race! He didn’t win the grand champion however, but we had fun cheering for him! Then we went to Cookie’s BBQ for lunch. They were serving BBQ ribs, chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, and several side dishes. There was also a large fresh fruit bar which was awesome! After lunch, we rented a paddle boat for a little while and then rented some lounge floats. The girls enjoyed finding many small shells. We swam in the ocean for awhile. Bruce and B1 went back to the ship to play bingo while B2 and I stayed and swam some more. Once we went back to the ship, we went to the kids’ pool and she swam with several other little girls for over an hour. I sat in a lounge chair and read a magazine and then napped a little! She loved going down the slide too. We all met back at the room to get changed for dinner, which tonight we ate in Parrot Cay. It was a pirate theme and we all got bandanas to wear on our heads. Once again, the food was different and good. After dinner, we checked the girls into the kids’ area again (on their request) and Bruce and I went to the Buena Vista Theatre to watch the movie “Step Up.” I was not impressed with it. We then headed up to deck 9 and watched the Pirates of the Caribbean deck party for awhile. There were several characters there and fireworks. At 10:30, there were two buffets on deck! They were HUGE too. One was a Mexican type of buffet with tacos, nachos, fajitas, etc. and also ham. The other was a dessert buffet and was fantastic. I wasn’t hungry at all but still ate a few things there just because it all looked soooo good! I went to get the girls out of the kid area and they were not ready to leave yet! B2 greeted me with “Mom, we both signed up for a bowling tournament (on Wii)” and B1 announced that she was building her own theme park on the computer while B2 was drawing all the characters. Wow. So I left and made arrangements for them to check themselves out when they were ready. I also made sure they understood that we have to get up and be ready to go by 9:15 in the morning. Anyway, they got back to the room by midnight and now we are all heading for bed! Beautiful weather and a great day today!

July 29, 2008: We got up today and gathered with a group of people, all of which were going on a dolphin encounter in Nassau. We got instructions in Studio Sea on the cruise ship and then headed out. We walked off of the pier and eventually boarded a boat that would take us to an island called Blue Lagoon. The boat ride itself was about 40 minutes long. Once there, Bruce, B1 and B2 got to get into the water with many other people but most importantly, with the dolphins. They got their picture taken, they each got to dance with the dolphin, feed him, hug him, and kiss him. They also got to watch while the other people did the same. I stayed on the deck and tried to take as many good pictures as I could. They enjoyed the experience and we purchased a picture of them with the dolphin. Then we headed back to Nassau via the same boat. Once back, the four of us went to about four stores and by that time, the girls and I were done with shopping and we were hungry. So we headed back to the ship while Bruce stayed to do some more shopping. I swear, he is worse than a woman! Back at the ship, we headed for the kids’ pool again and grabbed a snack at Pluto’s snack bar adjacent the pool. Hubby arrived by 4:15pm. I headed up to the shower to get ready for dinner and a little while later, everyone else came up to the room as well. Our dinner tonight was in Parrot Cay again and tonight it had an island theme. The food was once again wonderful. I took some more picture of what I ate! After dinner, we went to a family game show right outside the restaurant. B2 and I participated to see how well we knew each other. We didn’t win but we had fun! Then we took the girls to the kids’ area and Bruce and I went to see “Toy Story – the Musical” in the Walt Disney Theater and it was really good. Next, we went to the WaveBands night club for an adult scavenger hunt of sorts followed by country music night. We got some cowboy hats (for free) to wear and did some line dancing. It was fun! Eventually, we gathered up the girls and then headed up to decks 9 and 10 to try to see the ship at night from the very front and the very back. It was really too dark to see anything and since it was past midnight, no one was really around. The girls went back to the room while Bruce and I went to Diversions (an internet café) to check our e-mails. We finally came back to the room after 1am and let me tell you, I told Bruce that you can certainly tell this is a family cruise ship because everything by that time was DEAD. No one around except a crew member or two. So now I need to go to bed because I am tired. We get to sleep a little later tomorrow. Yippeeeee!