Friday, February 28, 2014

Winter Break in Orlando

I am done with Winter.
I thought living in the South would be warmer but apparently I need to go Souther.

Like to ORLANDO for Winter Break!
(I wouldn't want to live in Orlando but perhaps a nice little city on the Gulf.)

Since the kids were out of school for a week we left the 30 degrees and drove straight to the 70s!

We didn't stop until we checked into the Nickelodeon Suites Resort.
The room was a little bit run down but decent enough and spacious.
One bedroom for Matt and me, and a fold-out sofa for the kids in the main room.

My main gripe was the kitchen.  We normally stay at condos on vacation because I prefer to cook most of our meals.  Part of the reason I chose the Nick Hotel was that it came with a kitchen.  I was a little dismayed to find that I didn't get an oven in my kitchen.  Where's the oven?  Nor did it come with many utensils and cookware.  We had 2 spoons, 4 forks, 5 plates and 3 wine glasses.  No knives and I had my choice of  three sauce pans to cook with.  Since we had to get groceries anyway we went to Walmart and I bought a frying pan, sharp knife, spatula and colander to get us by. (and to go into the Condo supplies for later trips.)

None of the above is important because this was a vacation for the Children.
Lauren and Tyler said this hotel was the best hotel they've ever seen.
Here's why.

The Lagoon Pool

The Oasis Pool

Happy Happy Happy

We spent a lot of time at the pools and everyone had a blast.  Kids swam and played like crazy, I soaked up as much sun as I could and Matt went back and forth between the pool and lounging with me.  There are lifeguards every 20 feet or so and they did a great job watching the guests.  I felt safe letting L and T go into the water and down the water-slides by themselves.

Once or twice everyday there is a mass SLIMING.
Here is Lauren after being slimed.

Mass Sliming in Action

The highlight was the pools but there is plenty of other things at the hotel to keep us occupied.
(clockwise from the left:  fun in the gift shop, 4D movies, character meet and greets, exploring the resort)

We cashed in our points for a ton of prizes.  Just dollars on the penny! ;)

Double Dare Live
This is a nightly game show staring resort guests as contestants.

Hair Wrapping!
Looks good Lauren!

The kids thought the hotel was fun enough but since we came all the way to Orlando we had to visit a theme park.

Neither L nor T are into scary rides.  L not at all so we thought LegoLand would be the best bet.  It is geared toward ages 2-12 and mainly has smaller rides.  It does have 4 smallish roller-coasters though.  We made them go on 3 of the 4. (The 4th was a wooden roller-coaster and I don't do the wooden ones.)  Lauren cried in every line and screamed louder than I have ever heard but at the end she admitted it was not that bad and it did indeed feel good to let loose her fears and frustrations in the form of a primal scream.  I think Tyler decided he was a roller-coaster junky after all because at the end of the day Daddy and T went on a roller-coaster three times in a row while Lauren and I checked out the gift shop.

Here are some LegoLand highlights.

One night we spent a few hours at Dave & Busters in Orlando.  Lauren and Tyler said it was the best restaurant ever.  We spent a lot of time at the arcade and racked up those tickets.  We cashed them in for some pretty cool prizes.  Again...dollars on the penny but worth it in FUN.

Some of the souvenirs and prizes.

Before we left I did a search for "Free things to do in Orlando" and Fort Christmas was on that list.  It sounded educational and Little House on the Prairie like.  Lauren has read every Little House book and I knew it was a must see.
(l-r: in front of the fort, in front of a house with a lean-to garage)
I highly recommend a visit to Fort Christmas if you are in the Orlando area.  It's on the way to the beach which is also a must see on any trip to Florida.

After Fort Christmas we headed over for an afternoon at the beach.  Beautiful Day!!
(clockwise: Tyler and Daddy at lunch on the boardwalk, Momma and her babies, petting a pelican because it thought it was a cat, ahhh the beach.)

We couldn't stay all evening at the beach because we had plans to visit City Walk at Universal Studios for dinner.
We ate dinner at Antojitos and Lauren fell in love with Mexican Fanta.  It's her new favorite drink.  (I guess I'll have to have some shipped in...or better yet go get her some in person.  I'm sure they sell it in Cabo.)

This wasn't my first trip to City Walk.  Back in 2002 Matt had a work conference in Orlando (we still lived in Eugene, Oregon at the time) and I got to go with him.  Back then I posed for a picture on a surfboard outside the Cinnabon restaurant.  I decided to recreate the pose as best as I could remember.
The surfboard and wave have been replaced but, besides the addition of two rugrats absolute blessings, I think I still look the same.  

More surfboard fun.
Lauren must have been knocked off by the massive wave.

As all good things must eventually come to an end so did our Orlando Vacation.
On the way home we broke up the trip and stayed the night in Lake City, Florida.  Our plan was to visit the Ichetucknee Springs but as we were driving there a massive thunderstorm went through.  I guess Florida was crying because we were on our way home.
Instead we ate dinner at Lake City's #1 restaurant according to TripAdvisor and played endless screen time at the hotel.

Beware of I-75 Rest Stops.

We had a great time and hopefully the kids made some lifetime memories.

Can't wait for our next vacation!  (a weekend in Tennessee in March)

Thursday, February 13, 2014


It's Going Down

We lost half of a tree last night.
I went to bed before Matt and didn't hear a thing but he said he heard a "crack" but wasn't sure what it was.
This morning we woke up to Little Lonely missing his top half.

I call him Little Lonely because when they built our house they cleared out most of the "little" big trees but left this guy to sway in the wind with every storm.
The 1/2 inch ice accumulation was just too much for this little big guy.

I'm Yelling Timber

 Matt took the above pictures this morning but I went out this afternoon and took some more pictures of the fallen tree.
What a difference a few hours makes.
Hardly any snow/ice at all.
(and oh my gosh blue sky and SUN!)

You Better Move

After two full days of being stuck inside, our cabin fever got the best of us.
We ventured out for a delicious lunch at my latest favorite restaurant/obsession:  Zoes Kitchen.

I brought the camera with me just in case there were some downed trees to document.
For the most part the roads looked like this.
 Completely Clear

However we did see some huge fallen trees.
 You can't see in this picture but this tree that fell over had at least a 4-foot exposed root-base on the back end. (Does that description even make sense?)

We also saw some fallen trees that took down power lines.
Both of the following trees had power lines under them but you can't tell in the pictures.

You better Dance

I think for the most part we personally lucked out with this storm.  No power outage, no major damage to the house and every family member made it out alive.  The kids struggled a bit but somehow pulled through without seriously hurting one another.

The meaning of the bold italics here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

IcePocalypse 2014

IcePocalypse 2014

Oh Man!  I thought this was going to be bad.
I was picturing a week without power and maybe longer.
The weathermen were the first to scare me.
Doom and Gloom all the way.

Since school was cancelled for two days we stayed on top of our homework.
 They look all determined here but we had a number of meltdowns before our work was finished.

The Ice Storm definitely brought in some ice.
Look at the cute icicles on Matt's frozen car. 
 The trees in the backyard seem to be bowing uncomfortably at the weight of the ice.
Luckily, none of them are threatening the house.

The ice didn't persuade Romy to stay indoors. He meowed and clawed his way outside.
Crazy Dog Cat

In anticipation of losing power I brought all of our candles out.  I was pretty excited to use them but the dang power never went out.

So...I decided it would be fun to pretend the power went out and to live by candle-light like they did in the Little House on the Prairie Days.

The kids enjoyed this and minus the running TV I think we were pretty much historically accurate. (wink)

Knock on Wood the worst is over.  I'm so ready for summer!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Snow Jam 2014

An Ice Storm is supposed to hit us overnight tonight so before that happens I thought I should post about our last Southern Snow Storm from just two weeks ago.

Snow Jam 2014
(2 inches of snow crippled the State of Georgia)
(school was closed for 4 straight days)

The Interstates were a mess but T and L had a blast at the neighbor's house.

Snowballs Away!!
(Tyler, Lauren, Rock & Annika)

Rock and Lauren are ready to go.

Tyler, Lauren and Rock

Back at home we hiked around our wooded backyard.

It seemed like a winter wonderland.

We were followed by our wanna be dog...Romy the cat.

The crazy cat followed us everywhere.

He wasn't a fan of the semi-frozen pond though.

 the view from the backyard tree-line looking toward the house
Where's Waldo/Romy?

Here's a better Where's Waldo/Romy pic.
(crazy cat!)

My sweet Snow Angel.

Although the snow crippled the entire metro Atlanta area, I really enjoyed the extra days off with my children. 

Finally, on the last day of snow we were able to make our family of snowmen.
(Prior to that that snow had been too cold and dry.)
What a cute Snow Family.

The next morning I looked out the window and was confused by what I saw.
The house across the street from us is currently uninhabited but somehow a family of snowmen built themselves in the front yard.

I thought the snow family looked a little bit like our snow family...although a bit slimmer.
I then looked out the side window and found out our Snow Family had run away.
 While we were sleeping our snowman family apparently picked up from our side yard and relocated across the street.

 I think this is hysterical and I'm pretty sure one of our friends moved the snowmen across the street.  (No one has yet claimed responsibility.) 
Two Reasons:  #1:  A kid would have just kicked the snowmen over and called it a day.  #2:  These snow-dudes were kind of heavy.  It took time, concentration, and muscle to move them and reassemble them across the street.  
If you, dear reader, pulled it off...many kudos to you.  You made our day!

Now that I've caught you up to the last state of emergency in the State of Georgia we are just hours away from the next one.

Let's hope this Impending Ice Storm isn't as bad as everyone thinks it will be.

Stay warm y'all.