Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Gratitude List

Happy Thanksgiving!

1. Living in a democratic republic
2. Alison
3. Beautiful fall days
4. Air travel
5. Work
6. Mountains
7. Sleep
8. Lighting
9. Veterans
10. The Volt
11. Savior of the World
12. A Great Job
13. Ada, Kate & Lyla
14. Pizza
15. Reading
16. Healthy family
17. Football
18. Priesthood
19. Jimmy Johns
20. Extended Family
21. Utah Basketball
22. Eternal Families

1. Autumn
2. That Ada and Kate were nice to each other
3. Nap time
4. Friends
5. Good books
6. Freedom
7. Target
8. Tyler
9. Music
10. Football
11. Church
12. Health
13. A date with Morgan babysitting
14. Ada
15. Kate
16. Lyla
17. A big soft bed
18. The Gospel
19. Weekends
20. Food
21. Tyler's job
22. Family

1. President Obama
2. The USA
3. A clean toy room
4. That we could go to Church
5. Our family
6. Bread
7. Cake
8. Kate
9. Lyla
10. Mommy & Daddy
11. Veterans
12. For being safe
13. Going to sleep
14. Garden
15. Fruit
16. Vegetables
17. Coloring
18. Flowers
19. Letters (A,B,Cs)
20. Bed
21. Turkey
22. Pie

1. President Monson
2. Jesus
3. Cleaning the toy room
4. The World
5. Cinnamon cereal (Cinnamon Toast Crunch)
6. Friends
7. Ada
8. That Alison stops for red lights
9. Snow
10. Lyla
11. Grandma
12. Earth
13. Love
14. Mommy & Daddy
15. Preschool
16. Treats
17. Elephants
18. Coloring
19. Jimmer
20. Turkey
21. Cupcake pillow
22. Tinkerbell blankie

1. Bread
2. Mommy and Daddy
3. Cheerios
4. Snacks
5. Waffles
6. Milk
7. Blankie
8. Babies
9. Toys
10. Goldfish
11. Cousins
12. Naps
13. Stuffing
14. Ice cream
15. Ada
16. Kate
17. Yogurt
18. Crawling
19. Crib
20. Oatmeal
21. Baby Cheetos
22. Crawling

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Florida & Disney World - Final Day

Warning: Theme park travelogue ahead. Proceed with caution!
Our flight didn't leave until around 5 PM on this day, so we decided to make the most out of it and spend one last day at the Magic Kingdom. 

We picked a few attractions that we wanted to hit once more and then did our best to make it happen.  I snuck in the horsehead as best I could (the security guy still found it as he dug through my bag:
"What's this?"

"A horsehead."

"A what?"

"A horsehead."
He then looks at me for a second before slowly shaking his head.  I'd bet he has stories to tell of the strange things people sneak into the parks.

Success at Disney World is often based on luck and being in the right place at the right time.  As we were walking into Adventureland we saw Ariel and Eric with a very short line.  We jumped in line and they closed it off after us. 
Immediately after that we were walking towards Splash Mountain when Brer Bear and friends came walking down the street.  Clarabelle was with them and she knelt down in front of Ada and gave her a small bouquet of lavender flowers.  She gave Ada and Kate a hug before they all started singing and dancing.  It was great timing on our part.

We really wanted to trick Kate into getting on Splash Mountain.  We think she would have loved it, but she was deathly afraid of ti.  I think that she would confuse Space Mountain with Splash Mountain.  Alas, the ride was broke for most of our time there on this day and we were unable to get her on.
While we waited for Splash Mountain (to see if it would re-open), we visited Woody.  Ada, Alison and Lyla also got their pictures with him, but they didn't show up on our photopass.

Ada, Kate and I went on Pirates of the Caribbean while Alison fed Lyla (ps. Disneyland's version is better), then we hit Small World, Dumbo (newly re-opened earlier this summer) and Ada and I went on Space Mountain.

We all (except Lyla) gave the Sword in the Stone a good tug, but none of us were able to dislodge it.  My guess is that Lyla is the chosen one, but that she needs to grow up a little more.

Alison humored me by allowing us to ride the monorail one last time over to Epcot and back to the Magic Kingdom, before jumping in the car and making our way back to the airport.

On our way to the airport we stopped at a drugstore and got some Combos (very important) and Dramamine for Ada and Kate.  We wanted to avoid puking girls at all costs (and as a side effect, it makes the girls sleepy). 

The flight home went very well.  I don't remember it so it must not have been too bad.  I do remember that we got home well after midnight, and that there is nothing like sleeping in your own bed after a long trip (probably especially for little Lyla, who slept a night in the bathtub).

/End Florida & Disney World Travelogue.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Florida & Disney World - Day 7

Warning: Theme park travelogue ahead. Proceed with caution!

We finally made it to the last of the Disney Parks here at Disneyworld.  Our first order of business was to head to the new Toy Story Mania ride.  The girls remembered this ride from California Adventureland and wanted to get on it again.

After that ride, we hit a few of the shows including Disney Jr. Live on Stage, Indiana Jones (pretty cool, which is my most vivid memory from my first visit to this park more than 20 years ago. I also remember we attended a taping of the game show Let's Make A Deal), the stunt driving show (awesome!), the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

The rides/attractions that we really enjoyed included Aerosmith's Rockin' Roller Coaster, The Tower of Terror (and I was glad that Ada decided to come on with me as she hasn't been on it for a few years.  She was scarred her first time) and Star Tours with both Ada and Kate.

We wrapped up our day with the backlot tram tour which Alison and I found to be pretty cool, but the girls were just begging to head back to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area.

Arguably, the highlight of the night was some real Chicago-famous deep dish pizza from Giordano's.  Giordano's has dozens of locations in Chicago and a couple in the Orlando area, one of which was nearly across the street from the hotel.  That is some good stuff.

Next up: One last visit to the Magic Kingdom and our flight home.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Florida & Disney World - Day 6

Warning: Travelogue ahead!

Monday was Labor Day and we wanted to avoid the theme park crowds if we could.  We started the morning off with a buffet breakfast at Golden Corral with Jordan, Morgan and their girls.

We were fortunate that the Tampa Bay Rays had a daytime home game for Labor Day against the Yankees.  Alison and I were excited to make it to another MLB ballpark.  This was her 10th and my 16th.  It was a good thing that the ballpark was indoors, because it was unbelievably hot and humid and would have been miserable at an outdoor ballpark.
On the drive over to St. Petersburg (the Tampa Bay Rays play at Tropicana Field, which is actually in St. Petersburg), Kate and Ada were drawing with some markers.  Ada had accidentally made a tiny black mark on her leg with one of the markers, Kate saw it and thought it was a great idea, so she started drawing all over her hands, legs and face.  Alison turned around and nearly shrieked when she saw her.  It was hilarious, but at the same time you just can't help but wonder what on earth goes on inside those little developing brains sometimes.

The Devil Rays beat the Yankees so we were in a good mood as we made our way across the magnificent Sunshine Skyway Bridge to Siesta Beach in Siesta Key, Florida.  I saw an article about this beach on a travel website and it was listed as the #1 beach in the United States, and arguably the #1 beach in the world.

With buildup like that, we had high expectations and we were not disappointed.  The beach is about 45 minutes south of St. Petersburg on the Florida Gulf Coast.  The water was beautiful and the perfect temperature.  Most of the people at the beach were just hanging out in groups in the water with their cocktails instead of on the beach because it was so pleasant in the water.

Whether by nature or with man's help I'm not sure, but the beach was separated by the gulf waters by a warm tide pool that got about one foot deep before rising up again to where the sand was right at the waters height.  Beyond that the beach was a gradual slope to the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

This beach is mainly known for it's concentration of pure sand.  The sand is very white and is more than 99% pure quartz.  This means that the sand does not retain heat and is soft to the touch.  It actually squeaks when you walk. 

Alison and I have added this area of Florida onto our list of places to visit again, but next time we'd like to spend some real relaxation time on this beautiful beach.

Next up: Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Florida & Disney World - Day 5

Warning: Travelogue ahead!
On Sunday, we were looking forward to taking it easy.  We slept in (for as long as the three little girls in our hotel room would allow us) and then made our way to St. Augustine, FL.  This city is the oldest continually inhabited city in the United States.  On our way, we picked up a bag of Florida oranges and some delicious sweet 'n salty praline pecans.  We picked up sandwiches from Subway before we met Jordan and Morgan at a park in the Olde Town where we had our picnic lunch. 

We made our way to St. George Street, which is the epicenter of the touristy part of town.  We walked the street, saw the sights and shops and then walked over to the old fort.  We didn't pay to get in, but it was a beautiful day for a walk nonetheless.

After our short visit in the old town, we headed across the Bridge of Lions to the St. Augustine beaches on the Atlantic Ocean.  It was a beautiful day to wade and swim in the shallows.  The girls had fun and it was a good chance to wear themselves out before we had to make the drive back to the Disney World area.

Next up: Labor Day visit to Tampa Bay and the Beach.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Florida & Disney World - Day 4

Warning: Amusement park travelogue ahead.  Proceed with caution!
While we didn't take very many pictures the first few days, for the rest of the trip we were on a bit of picture overload. There are more than 30 pictures in this post and I struggled trimming it down to even that many.

All over Disney World there are photographers waiting to take your picture.  Typically, these pictures are quite expensive.  However, you have the option of purchasing a digital download (or cd) of all pictures for a set price (I think we paid $160 for over 200 pictures). 

On our 4th day in Florida (Sat. 9/1), we made our way to Epcot.  We started out with Spaceship Earth (the ride in the Epcot ball).  I think Ada was mad about not getting to sit in the stroller or something.

Next, while I ran to grab some fast passes for Soarin', Alison and the girls waited in line to see Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Goofy.  Surprisingly, we saw more characters here at Epcot than at any of the other Disney parks.
I love how excited Kate is to see Goofy in this picture.  It was so fun to see the excitement on her face.

This is Kate getting ready to ride Soarin' for the first time.  She isn't quite sure what to expect.  She loved it just like her bigger sister.

After hitting a few of the rides in The Seas with Nemo and friends and The Land, we started to make our way around the World Showcase.

There are restaurants, shops and pavilions for 11 countries.  At each of the countries, the girls had to find the kids desk where they could do an activity and get a stamp on their Duffy the Disney Bear stick.

The first country that we visited was Canada, followed by Great Britain where we unexpectedly ran across Piglet and Pooh in a toy store.

Next we saw Mary Poppins as we were walking to France.

Ada in front of the Epcot Eiffel Tower.

In France, we stumbled upon Sleeping Beauty (and there was hardly any line), so the girls were excited to get some pictures with her.

Alison picked up a few treats from the French bakery that we ate while waiting for Belle and Beast to meet their guests.

Next came Morocco where we met Jasmine and Aladdin.

Then came Japan, the American Adventure, Italy and Germany.  Snow White makes appearances in Germany, but we weren't in that country at the right time.

In China, the girls were very excited to meet Mulan.

In Norway, Alison met her own little friend.

And in Mexico, the girls met the Mexican Donald and rode the Three Caballeros ride 3 or 4 times. 

By this time, we were pretty worn out so we slowly made our way to the exit.  The girls waited while I went on Mission: Space before we made our way back to our cozy little hotel room.

Next up: A Sunday visit to St. Augustine.