Saturday, June 27, 2015

50 X 50

Within the next year, Eric and I both will be turning 40.  So since 30x30, and 40x40s are all the rage.  I think I'm going to start a 50X50.

1. Travel to all 50 states
2. Boob Job
3. 50 pieces of Vintage Pyrex!
4. Read 50 books
5. Go to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and spend the night
6. See the Lilac Festival on Mackinac Island
7.  Take the kids fishing
8. Take my 3 boys to Disney World
9.  Have my 3 boys all swim in the ocean.
10.  See my kids at the beach with their cousins
11.  Go skiing (even if it's just cross country)
12. Visit 50 National Parks... or maybe half of them... or maybe 50 National Parks, Monuments, Seashores, and Forests.
13.  Take the boys to Washington D.C.
14.  Take the boys to San Diego Zoo
15.  Let the boys see some real live Pandas
16.  Meet Captain Barnacles!
17.  Go away from the boys for more than 24 hours
18.  Leave the country!
19.  Take all three boys to Niagara Falls.
20.  Do well enough with Young Living, to get invited to one of the out of country trips. Maybe make Diamond!

I think I might need some more planning.

Disney - The Flora, the Fauna, and the Merry Weather

Well, you know me.  It wouldn't be a Vacation without me taking pictures of Flowers and Wildlife.  So here's some Fabulous pics from that portion of our Epic Adventure.


Thie beautiful blooming hibiscus was next to the pool at the Legoland hotel.  


These fun hostas greeted us as we entered the Grand Floridian.  
I thought to myself, even the hostas are pink!  There's a lot of pink in that place.  I love it. 

In the shade of this fruit tree we got to meet Snow White.  It looked like Limes from below, but could have also been early Oranges, most likely, but hard to tell. 

Someday I hope to go to WDW during the Flower and Garden season, because there are fabulous topiaries everywhere.   But I enjoyed this Alice in Wonderland topiary located right by the Teacup ride.  

This looks so Natural.  But it's a man made waterfall just outside of Beast's Castle. 
We passed by on our way to have lunch at Be Our Guest.  


Jacob found these jasmine relatives in Hollywood Studios.
The boys had taken the stroller and rushed ahead to get in line for Padawan training while Jake and I moseyed behind.  If we'd been dashing we never would have seen or smelled them.    
The whole area smelled Wonderfully!  

Turns out it's called Angelwing Jasmine. 
Beautiful. 


I love this giant palm tree at Hollywood Studios.  
They are so pretty.  We were parked in the shade underneath them waiting for the Star Wars Parade to start.   The sun shone on the tree, but not on me!  


Saturday morning, we got an early start in Animal Kingdom.  
Eric and I went to the Rainforest Cafe on our honeymoon.  Chris took this photo of us at the entrance.  At the time, it was brand new, and easy to spot, and we ate there twice during our 5 day trip.  It's a little harder to find with all the foliage filled in.  


This pretty tree is called the Purple Glory.  
It's Gorgeous!  


Loving the purple flowers against the sky.  
This was a little tricky, as my camera kept fogging up in the humidity.  Ha Ha!


What a Beautiful Bouganvilla.  
These beautiful pinkish purple petals aren't actually the flowers, they are actually leaves.  They are papery spring leaves, almost like a dogwood's bracts.  The flowers themselves are tiny inside.  Of course, this one was climbing too high for me to actually capture the centers.  Still, they look pretty. d


One last Puple Bouganvilla against the sky. 

And all these pretties were even before we made it into the main area of Animal Kingdom! 



It's not real, and there was a lot of construction going on, but I have to smile every time I see the Tree of life in Animal Kingdom.  

Javanese Glorybower
Yeah, I had to look that up, I didn't just Know that one.   Pretty invasive wee beastie. 


Not sure if this fella was local, or a legitimate guest from Africa on our adventure.  


The Zebra just waltzed right past our truck. 


This ostrich was in snippy nesting mode, and made us sit there for 20 minutes, just staring down our vehicle.  She would not let us pass.  The CM didn't want to do anything to scare her, and recommended we do the same, so we pretty much had to wait her out.   Obstinate thing.   And her nest was huge! 


That's a proper stork.  We have one of these in Indy, I think, though they are both pretty shy.  Maybe just Pretty and Shy.


Looking down on the welcome garden at the Polynesian. 



While glancing around from the monorail, we noticed this wasp nest in a banana tree leaf.  Ew!


Gardens in Epcot. 

Canna Lilly!

I love this garden.  It's the Victoria Gardens, right next to the Canada pavilion in Epcot. 

Getting ready to go to dinner in Morocco, we find ourselves in France in Epcot.  
I found myself with some time to look around while the boys had an Agent P adventure. 
The smells of the Perfumeries were toxic, I was happier outside with nature. 


Beautiful gardens in France (well the Floridian version of France! 


Our last day.  Farewell beautiful palm trees at the beach by the Grand Floridian. 

All three boys taking off towards the pool, through the gardens on our last day, before we check out.  

The view from the marina on the way to our room.  If our necks had been a little longer, we could have seen the fireworks every night from our own balcony.  But we were either there, or trying to sleep.  Still, it's pretty neat to see the castle from across the lake.  


The rosebush just outside our building at the Grand Floridian.  


This rose was on our table at our last meal at the Grand Floridian Cafe.  
We ate there a bunch on our honeymoon, but only once this trip.  I do so love that place.  Every time we walked in, they said Welcome Home.  It was true.  Disney World is my second home.  Someday I'd love to belong to the Vacation Club, and really be a part of it, sort of live there for a while.  But we've got to be a lot more financially set.  I cried when we left.  I always do.  It really is the Happiest Place on Earth.  






Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Epic Vacation, Day 16 - Going Home

We weren't in an enormous rush.  We actually took our sweet time getting ready in the morning.   We slept in until 9.  We barely made it to breakfast in time.   Then we moseyed back to the room.  Man, that Ramada was nice!

We let the boys go back downstairs for one last swim before we packed up.
Packing up didn't take long.  We were not in a hurry to get back home.  
But we needed to.  Lunch was Subway, and I was getting excited to see my little dog.  


I love driving at naptime.  It's quiet.  I listened to my Book on playaway, Paper Towns, it's a nifty young adult book about a Florida and Road Trip, and I had no idea when I picked it up from Book Club how perfect it would be to be listening to it on this trip. But I got a big kick out of it.  


They are building a new bridge as we cross the Ohio, going Back Home Again in Indiana.  
I had to take some pictures.  Because it's going to be completely different the next time we travel to Florida.  This trip was so huge, so epic, it will be a long while before we tackle another one like it.   

But it was so good to get home. Jacob ran around the house, chasing Princess, yelling "Isa Daw!"  He missed her.  Initially I don't think she missed us, she was skitchy about all our noise.  But then she came around let Jake do all his mischief, and she didn't leave.  She may have been happy to see us come home too.   It was evident she got a little spoiled, she looks a little thicker than when we left 2 weeks ago.  But she was good while we were gone for Miss Macey, so it's ok if she got a little spoiled.   Then the boys didn't want to go to bed at a reasonable hour, or go in their own beds.  They were crazy, they may have been spoiled too.  School Starting may be a rough adjustment for them!   But I'm happy to be back and sleeping in our own beds.  After 2 weeks of varying levels of good and bad and horrible beds, I find there really is no place like Home.  

Epic Vacation, Day 15 - The Space Center


What a great day!
We focused on spending most of the day at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. 
And the boys were so excited when we drove towards it, and we could see rockets from the highway. 


A nice gal offered to take our picture.  She had the Nikon equivalent of my camera, so I knew she wouldn't mess it up, and she didn't.  I like to find folks that are not intimidated by my camera when we ask for photo help.  Of course, I set it all on automatic, so it does the work, but sometimes, that's not enough.  But this gal was really nice, and we ended up following each other all morning.  


I was really thriled that our Indiana State Museum partner pass got us in here for free.  As soon as we entered, the boys wanted to see this exhibit, The Robot Zoo!   I wasn't sure if our free pass would allow for it.  Luckily it did!   So the kids were thrilled right from the getgo.  Frankly, I think that if I had paid full price to get in here, I'd have been less than festive.   But for what we paid, the price was right!  The restrooms were two stairs down unless we went outside.  I'd feel bad for someone in a wheelchair here.  We had enough trouble with just a stroller.  

Still, the boys thought it was really cool to go outside in the heat and check out all the real rockets.  Most of them are real, some just outsides, a nice mix, and real enough.  


Ahh!  
I tried to take pictures of the boys with the rocket, but it was too wide.  Life size! 



Do, Re, Egon. 
Three boys, three rockets.  They look so tiny. 


Right next to the rockets they had a play area.  There was a climby thing, like we'd find at McD's or Chick Fil-A.  And in the center of the room, one of these rocket blast off things, but smaller than some I've seen.  They had an attendant, so I just let the big boys play while we snacked and drank.  When Jake was done snacking, he wanted out of his stroller, I thought he'd go play on the climby thing with his brothers.  Nope.  He ran for this, and snuck through while the attendant had the gate open.  There was no height requirement posted.  And we all watched as Jake climbed up by himself.  We shrugged, figuring we'd let him.  The attendant told us he could stop it at any time if there was a problem.  So we let him go.   He hung on with one hand for dear life on the cross bench, and the other to his seat and seat belt.  Once he bounced a couple times, he lost the Oh $@^! look on his face.  And he had fun.  


Christopher was not going to be shamed by a baby, so he hopped on afterwards.  He says he likes rides now, but is not so happy about heights.  But he figured if Jake could do it, so could he.  
And Chris had a wonderful time! 


Back outside we found a helicopter that we could just walk right into.  The boys thought this we really cool.  So they insisted on buckling themselves in.  It was dark and hot, but they were tough.  Just like real soldiers.   


All my boyz with the helicopter.  Though calling it a helicopter doesn't do it justice.  
It's a Chinook. 


Lastly but not least, we had to find the Space Shuttle. 
This one originally was not built to fully function, just for show.  They sent it to Japan for a museum.  Then they sent it back.  So we modified it so the outside looks real, even though the inside is like wood, so it couldn't be really sent into space.  Still, it's a life size model, and freaking awesome.  
Daddy was very excited to see the Space Shuttle, he was reading all the history the night before.   



Astronaut twins!  Those outfits are so huge you can fit two sweetboys back there! 


It's a Alien!  

No, just my boyz and I taking a walk on the moon. 

We were able to have lunch at the Mars cafe, which made the boys very happy.  And after the Space Shuttle, we made our way back to the front, and the car to hit the road.  We got on the road about 2.  

Happily, it only took a couple hours to get out of Alabama, through Tennessee, and into Kentucky.  
 We decided to stop for the evening before dinner.  We wanted a relaxing evening, since we were going to go home the next day.  In theory, we could've made it home in another 4 hours, but we just didn't want to.   We needed one more relaxing night.  Eric decided he was going to make sure he had a bed, no more sleeping on the rollaway.  We stopped in Bowling Green, KY because we saw a bunch of hotels and a restaurant we liked.  But apparently, it's hard to find something to hold 5 people in Bowling Green.  All they had were 2 queens, and rollaways.  No suites to be found!  Even the boys were looking all over the signs for the word 'suites'.   And a pool.  We had to have an evening swim.  We checked out like 4 different hotels.  And none of them could hold us.  We were getting tired.  I was even considering moving on to another town... I sent Eric into our last shot, the Ramada.  They told us they only had 2 fulls and rollaway too.  But wait, they also had the Presidential Suite.  Well, Eric thought, there's no way we could afford that.  But the gal gave us a deal we couldn't refuse.  And she offered to send up a rollaway, just to be sure there'd be room for 5.  Since it was labeled a foldout couch and a king, but the couch was in a separate room.  Eric went up to check that we'd all fit.   Um Yeah, it wasn't going to be a problem.  It was 2 full rooms, a full king size bedroom, and a foldout couch, a spare couch, full kitchen, and they did indeed send up the rollout.  


It was so spacious, I couldn't even fit it all in one shot.   The boys were THRILLED!  
They hadn't been this happy since we arrived in WDW.   I was worried they'd like this better than the Grand Flo.  Not quite.  But still pretty freaking Awesome!  


So we went out for our last dinner, at Chuy's.  It's a Mexican restaurant that they used to have in L.A., a friend of mine took us there, because she adored the tortilla chips.  And it was Awesome.  The kids loved the festively retro decor.   We had a great dinner, and went back for an evening swim. It was an outdoor pool, but the weather cooperated, and the kids were able to get a good swim in before the sun set.  It would've been great at the heat of the day, but it was a little chilly for me.  Still, the kiddie pool kept them happy.   And it was nice and relaxing.  From here on, it was all going to be easy to get home, so one last relaxing evening and nice night sleep was a great note to end on, so we did.  

Epic Vacation, Day 14, Into AL

I like the state of Alabama.  They have trees, it doesn't seem to get to humid, and the folks are really nice.   We woke up on Friday, in Valdosta, Georgia.  The boys learned the word "Suites".  They really like sleeping in their own space, and not sharing with Daddy.  So we had crashed at the Comfort Inn AND SUITES in Valdosta.  And it was nice, Chris and Sam had  a half wall and fold out couch to share.  They liked it.  And they've decided that staying in hotels with suites is pretty sweet.  Ha Ha! 


It was a nice morning to be goofy.  We'd had a long day the day before, and we slept in!  
Rather refreshing to do so.   

All we had to do on this day was get to Alabama.  
Initially we weren't sure, if we were going to go for it, but we decided to turn left in Atlanta, and head into Alabama.  We wanted to go to Hunstville, to the Space Center there.  We thought the kids might get a kick out of one last fun stop before heading home.   


Turns out we like Alabama.   
They have pretty flowers blooming along the roadside.  
And lots and lots of pine trees.  Pine forests are Eric's happy place.  
Sometime I'd like to just go down there and Stay.  


We also discovered Whataburger!  
We thought it was a Texas thing.  But apparently, they have Whataburger in Alabama too!  
That was a great stop for supper.  Olaf approves too! 


Jacob likes a good shake, and this root beer milkshake made him very happy!  
It was like a root beer float.  This kid loves his carbs!  And when he sees a milkshake, he doesn't want to share with me any more.  He had been content to take turns.  But he got to the point now, he doesn't want to share anymore.  He just says "My!"  Even when it's not.


It's a bit hard to see in the distance, but there are rockets hidden in the trees, as we exit the highway to go to our hotel for the night.  The kids didn't see much we went by so fast.  We knew they'd have a great time the next day!  We got settled before dark, that left the boys enough time for an evening swim and some trashy Disney channel tv with shows like Jessie and Dog with a Blog, which I can't stand, but it's what they like.  I'm just happy they're happy.  Just the way we like it.