Friday, October 31, 2014

Disney Trip: Background

Anna June, suffering from exhaustion, really made this morning tough for us.

As I reported yesterday, I have lots to say about our big Florida vacation. I'll try to break it down into a series so there's not too much to read at once.

For a little background on our trip, we were excited to go to the Happiest Place on Earth. But we waited until AJ was six because of a few critical things:
- No strollers
- No diapers
- No naps
- Tall enough to ride all the rides
- Old enough to ride scary rides
- Young enough to ride tamer rides
- Literacy, general - it's helpful to be able to read signs and follow directions
- Literacy, Disney - we wanted her to see some of the feature films and get to know some characters first

When I was a kid, I took 2 trips to Disney. First, I went to Epcot (then called EPCOT Center) with my Grandma Hazel, Granddaddy Elwyn, Uncle Scott and Aunt Heidi. We went down to Jacksonville to visit Heidi in her (then) new surroundings and I was very lucky I got to go - none of the other grandchildren did. I was about ten years old. I loved everything about that trip, especially seeing the "world" and spending time with my grandparents. We did it as a day trip from Aunt Heidi's apartment or condo (they are the same thing to a ten-year-old).

My second trip was also a day trip from a relative's house. We went to visit Dad's cousin Deborah in Cocoa Beach, FL where she worked for NASA. We went to Magic Kingdom as a family: Mom, Dad, Drew, Patrick, Rusty, and me. Rusty remembers being too short to ride the good rides.

Of course, it has been more than two decades since both of those trips. The whole place has grown by leaps and bounds since then, adding theme parks and hotels. I remembered It's a Small World, Haunted Mansion, and Country Bear Jamboree, but I didn't recall anything else - a lot has changed!

I interviewed my friends who had recently gone to get tips and tricks. I pinned a bunch of articles about the Disney Experience. I didn't do nearly as much as Ben did - he's an excellent researcher and invested a lot into making our trip the best possible. We decided to stay for three days - I have heard that more than that is just too exhausting. I wanted 2 days at Magic Kingdom and 1 at Epcot. I was hoping AJ would love the 2 parks as much as I did on my first visit.

Neither Ben nor I had ever been to a theme park for more than one day at a time. It's grueling. I had not trained for this scenario.

We decided on a "value" resort, as our goal was to spend as much time as possible in the parks and not very much time at the hotel - just to sleep. We chose Pop Century, which features pop culture icons throughout the property from the decades of the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. It was a fun choice.

The dates we selected, although not ideal, came with an included "quick service" dining plan. We each got 2 meals and 1 snack per day on our Magic Bands, something they didn't have technology for when I was a true first time visitor.

This is part of what went into the planning. This kind of picture is what we were hoping for.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Anna June and I are wiped out. I'm leaving this link here to the pictures from our trip. We have so much to tell, but we'll just let you look.

Huge thanks go to Ben for assembling pictures from 4 separate gadgets.

*Updated* - Please try the link again and let us know if it works.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What's Most Important

We just got home from a great trip, and Anna June had a good time. But I seriously hesitated about taking this trip in October.
You see, going later in the year meant fewer crowds, less heat, and a sweet "free" dining package for Disney world. But it also meant missing school for 3 days.
I do value our family higher than education, but I hold school in pretty high esteem. So does AJ, who may have groused about ruining her perfect attendance for this. But with the caviar that I don't plan to do this again, we booked it.
Before we left, though, we got AJ's first report card of first grade - all As! We are so proud!
We aren't celebrating the next one with a trip to Disney World, though!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Tooth Fairy Came!

Anna June lost her sixth tooth last night. It was the other one on the top. You may call her Snaggletooth if you'd like - she's been hearing it for a while.

As you can see, the original two she lost on the bottom have come in pretty well. I blogged about the loss of her first tooth here. The other ones, well, I'm not sure I blogged about them, so here's the scoop:

I have no idea when she lost her other teeth. Evidently the first one was major news, and the others after that have been a blur. I am sure this is how it is when you have multiple children, too.

But I will tell you that the first lost one was on 12/05/2013.

The second one may have been before Christmas - it was really close afterwards. Things were kind of quiet, but the next three came in quick succession. One I didn't blog about on purpose - she lost it the morning we left to go to Milwaukee, over Labor Day weekend (the calendar tells me that would have been 08/30/2014). I was on a news embargo then - first she got to show her Nana, who took us to the airport, and then she got to show Granny, Grandpa and Grammy all the SAME DAY she lost it! That was pretty cool.

For that particular tooth, we took the tooth fairy pillow along with us to the hotel. The tooth fairy visited the hotel even though AJ was sleeping at her Granny's house that night. It is lucky she found the pillow! 

Then, I think there was another one shortly after we came back.

Those three have been busy growing in. I feel that the lower teeth are coming in a little crooked, and braces may be in her future. Don't mention this to AJ - she freaked all the way out when I told her this. I survived with those things for years, and had to have teeth pulled to even get that far. She doesn't have good genes on her side in the tooth area, but we are still hoping for the best. She goes to the dentist over Christmas break - we shall see what he says. 

And then there was the 6th tooth to leave us, last night, 10/21/2014. She is glad it is out - she had to have soup for dinner and was starving at bedtime. By then, she could eat a cereal bar.

She slept soundly, and the tooth fairy visited. Our fairy is nothing if not consistent. She gives an outrageous $2.00 per tooth! I think that is really generous - AJ is a lucky kid!

I, for one, am just happy that she will be able to take her hands out of her mouth for a second! She could barely stop to do anything else. We are very happy!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Health Hero, Sort Of

When I was making Anna June's back-to-school appointments, I had hoped to get her flu vaccine taken care of while we were at the pediatrician. Unfortunately, they weren't available yet - school starts back too early here!

I had it on my calendar to call and see about it, but like so many other things, it kept getting pushed back to "later."

Eventually, the school sent something that said that flu vaccines (FluMist) would be available for the children. Just provide your insurance info (or lack thereof) and they'd handle the rest. A for-profit company was handling it, called Health Hero. I wish the county, city, or state had the resources to do this themselves - kids everywhere should have access to this type of service.

Personally, I think it is a great idea - large groups of kids together spread flu quickly, so since they're already there and it is in the best interest of all involved, it's an appropriate use of school time. Plus, I don't have to miss work (and she doesn't have to miss school) to get something that 's supposed to keep us from missing work and school.

I missed the deadline to turn in the form, but sent it in groggily the following day, which was still days ahead of the "clinic" at the school.

Evidently, I put my name in the student's name box on the form, or something. AJ said they called her Laura. I hope that my insurance doesn't really believe that "Laura" got vaccinated at school, because I'm due for my shot tomorrow!  (Besides this documentation on my desk, I just read this editorial which reminded me that flu usually kills more people than exotic diseases like ebola.)

To steal the company's phrase, be a health hero and get your flu vaccine today!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What it Was Like

Overall, Anna June had a good time camping. While we were still at the campsite, reviewing the experience so far, Ben asked us to complete the sentence, "Next time we go camping, we should ____________" AJ piped in with "not bring me." She later cheered up, but it was funny.

Here are some more of our pictures.
This is how our campsite looked on Saturday morning. We had not yet put up the canopy (and I'm not sure we got a picture of that, but we put it over the table). 

 We had our own fire pit/grill combo. That was very helpful!

 We had our own running water. It was extremely helpful!

 A view of Lake Martin on a cloudy day

Panoramic shot from the pier.

 Another panoramic shot from the other side of the pier.

 If you look closely, you can see me in my chair, probably with my eyes closed. 

 AJ fished from the pier.

This is how the silo looks from the ground. It's pretty tall! 

 At the top of the silo.

AJ and me swimming.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

More from Wind Creek

Anna June is in a lot of pictures, even though sometimes she doesn't want to be. Ben has a new phone that can do both panorama pictures and group self-portraits, so we tried it out on the camping trip. Here we are atop the silo at Wind Creek State Park

Here's a panoramic shot of what it looks like at the top of the silo. Ben and AJ pointed out that Granny would have hated the climb - lots of steps that you could see through, up very high. 

Finally, I wanted to share the map that we got upon check-in at the park. I found 2 typos in the legend. I wonder if I should tell them...