Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Disney World Photos

As promised, here are some of the photos from our Disney World excursion. You're in luck -- I'm only posting a few of the 183 photos we took over five days. This is a good time to say a prayer of thanksgiving.

I had shirts made for ZZ and me. After being postponed a second time, here is what the fronts of them looked like.

ZZ was really excited to make it to the Magic Kingdom

Me on Space Mountain -- 20 years in the making

Me kissing the sign at the Haunted Mansion. Hands down the best ride Disney has ever conceived. Oh, and the backs of our shirts said, "7 kids, ages 8 months to 8 years -- Too much to count. Co-pays for doctor's appointments -- $15 per child. Gasoline to and from soccer games -- $2.25 per gallon. Two sisters on vacation in Disney World without their husbands or kids -- Priceless."

ZZ and I are greeted by two of Cinderella's mice at Cinderella's Royal Table restaurant.

Me in the restaurant we ate in in the Italy portion of Epcot's World Showcase. This was one of the best meals I have ever had!

ZZ posing with the best roller coaster ever made, Expedition Everest, in the background. Later on, I told her, "You look like a fool in that get-up." Ahhh...sisterly love.

An almost-overlooked find - A Hidden Mickey in the carpeting in the hallway of the Polynesian Hotel. Don't know what a Hidden Mickey is? Check out this site for a complete explanation and guide.

I told ZZ I would ride the Tower of Terror at Disney-MGM Studios with her. But I was not going to do it with a smile on my face.

The guys from the Muppet Show balconey, in the flesh (sort of)

We spent 20 minutes stuck on the Aerosmith Rockin' Rollercoaster at Disney-MGM Studios. Here is what we did to pass the time.

A fond and somewhat tearful goodbye. "M-I-C ... See you real soon! K-E-Y ... Why? Because we like you! M-O-U-S-E..."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Back from Disney and Feelin' (Sort Of) Fine...

We're back. We actually made it to Disney, after two postponements (is that a word?) and believing that we'd never truly find ourselves on Main Street again.

But we did and boy, what a trip it was.

At the all-too-early hour of 4:40 a.m. (yes, that's A.M.), my good friend and New-Year's-Eve-spanking compadre, Susan, picked ZZ and I up and took us to the airport. I greeted her with two-liter bottle of Dr. Pepper and a cup decorated with, "I love Susan," because, wow...what a good friend to get her rear end out of bed so early just to take us to the airport. I hope the caffeine helped.

We made our way to Atlanta and finally to Orlando where we made use of Disney's "Magic Express" service. We completely bypassed baggage claim and hopped straight onto the bus headed toward Disney World. About 40 minutes later, we were in the lobby of the Polynesian Hotel (gorgeous!), gretting by a woman with leis (yes, the "We got leid," jokes were abundant) for each of us.

We quickly checked in and were delighted to know that our room was already waiting for us. We found our way to the Fiji longhouse (apparently, a longhouse is some sort of Polynesian abode) and to room 1307.

It was awesome! It was really big, with separate closets for both of us, a spacious bathroom, a fridge and coffee maker and beds to die for. They were so comfy! Had be been traveling with little ones, there was also a futon. Polynesian decor abounded, including a thatched headboard above each bed, tiki lamps in the bathroom and cool sea grass decor in the doors of the closets. Tres chic!

We had a "Garden View" room which, in any other resort means, "A view of a brick wall," but in Disney means, "An awesome view of a lush garden." They did not disappoint, either. The view was of a garden, the beach and the Disney Wedding Pavillion. It was gorgeous!

After settling in (our bags had not arrived yet, but we set down our carryons), we headed for the Magic Kingdom. Once we got in the gate, ZZ kissed the ground. No kidding.

We headed in and perused Main Street. We smelled the smells, enjoyed the lights and just plain soaked it all in. We were wearing our "Happy Birthday!" buttons, supplied to us by the Polynesian Resort, so every Cast Member (this is what Disney calls its employees -- they're not just workers, they are a part of a show that is put on every day) called out to us, "Happy Birthday!" It was awesome.

We headed through Cinderella Castle toward Space Moutain. I needed to ride it. Here's the story.

In 1987, my family visited Disney World. We rode all the rides, saw all the shows and did it all -- including Space Mountain. As we were waiting in line, though, my 11-year-old fears got the best of me and I chickened out. My mom led me out of the structure while my dad and sister rode the ride. I regretted my decision almost immediately.

So, in 2000, when my dad took the whole family (including Todd, who was not yet even my fiancee!) to Disney World, I was ready to ride. But the ride was down for refurbishment. I was devastated.

So we knew that upon arrival, I needed to ride Space Mountain.

We stood in the queue. We got in the "space ship," and we took off. We quickly jetted through twists, turns and hills and ended up safely back on Earth.

I did it. I rode Space Moutain. 20 years in the making. I even shouted, "20 years!" when I got off the ride. What a feeling!

We made our way over to our very favorite and most sentimental ride, the Haunted Mansion. Ever since we were little kids, this ride has been a family favorite. Even mom and dad would find themselves quoting the ride's most memorable lines such as, "No windows and no doors!"

As expected, the mansion was fantastic and everything was exactly as we left it seven years ago. It's nice when things don't change. I resist change.

By this time, we were starving and we sat down at Pinnochio's Restaurant for a bite to eat while we watched the loading dock at, "it's a small world." During this time, we discussed how sad we were that we had lost out on having dinner at Cinderella Castle and decided we should walk to the Castle to see if there was any way they could squeeze us in.

Well leave it to Disney magic...

The gentleman at the desk said that they did indeed have a spot for two open, but that it was now or never. So, only moments after having lunch, we headed up the stairs to dine with Cinderella, her Fairy Godmother and two of her mice. Despite that fact that we were not at all hungry, it was fantastic! I've always wanted to dine in the Castle and this was the chance of a lifetime! We felt like royalty and were even given special treatment because it was our birthdays. It's a time I'll never forget.

We spent the rest of the day enjoying the Magic Kingdom and its offerings, including a few more rounds on the Haunted Mansion.

We finally made it back to our hotel after the nightly fireworks and crashed. We'd been up since 4:00 a.m. and we were exhausted.

The next day brought us to Epcot where we experienced Soarin', Ellen's Energy Adventure and meandered around the world in the World Showcase and spent too much money in the big, all-things-Mickey shop, Mouse Gear. That afternoon, we returned to the Magic Kingdom for more Haunted Mansion and the nightly fireworks show.

Our third day was spent in the Animal Kingdom, where we rode the best rollercoaster I have ever been on -- Expedition Everest. We also took the Kililmanjaro Safari and enjoyed the sights. Back to the Magic Kingdom that afternoon for more of the same.

Our final full day brought us to the Disney-MGM theme park for a tour of the Hollywood Tower of Terror (which I actually enjoyed this time, since I normally hate rides that drop you), the backlot tour, Muppetvision 3-D and lots of other favorites. Bet you can't guess what we did that afternoon...

Our last day was spent just in the Magic Kingdom, saying goodbye to all of our favorites, finding the talking trashcan (named Push) who sang Happy Birthday to us and finally, tearfully, turning our backs toward Main Street to board the monorail back to our hotel where we caught the bus to the airport.

Once again, Disney's Magic Express came in handy, in that we got our boarding passes and checked our bags at the hotel's front desk, never once having to drag anything through an airport. We didn't actually handle our bags until we got to San Antonio's airport around 10:30 that night.

The trip was a roaring success. I can't wait to take my kids next time and despite the fact that I need a vacation from my vacation and that my toes have blisters the size of quarters on them, I am as happy as I can be with our trip. It was fantastic.

ZZ was the historian on this trip and she seems to be keeping our pictures ransom. As soon as I get them from her, though, I'll post the highlights here. And yes, I know I still owe Christmas photos too.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Trip, a Tooth and a (S)Torm

If you could only here the flack I take when I don't blog enough. I hear it from everyone -- even my own family.

But that's okay, because sometimes I need a little "nudge" to get my rear in gear. I hope that this is the one and only time I'll let nearly a month go by without posting.

Where to start...where to start...

New Year's. Oh boy...

We had a party for our neighbors and close friends on New Year's Eve. Everyone brought some food and some beverages and the fun started around 8:00. We even set up our garage with food and drinks for the kiddos, in the hopes that they'd leave us alone. No such luck, but it was still fun. The kids in our neighborhood are every bit a part of our parties, so it actually would have seemed weird without them.

Before the party, Todd and I stood in the kitchen talking and I said, "I really can't afford to get drunk this year. I've got three kids who need me and it would be unfair for me to be hung over tomorrow."

Later, I ate my words. And then threw them up.

It seemed that my intentions were good, but my methods were bad. In my haste to get the party started and get everything out of the oven on time, I failed to eat dinner. So when I started on that first glass of Shiraz, my body was not equipped to deal with the onslaught of alcohol. A glass and a half later and I was feeling no pain. Add in one of neighbor Susan's Malibu Rum punches and I was three sheets to the wind. At some point, I actually just slipped upstairs and fell into bed. I think it was around 11:00. Happy New Year!

But it was not meant to be. The aforementioned neighbor, Susan, decided that it was not acceptable that I go to bed so early, so she, in her very drunken state, climbed the stairs to my room, barged in and got in bed with me, all the while smacking me on the bottom and yelling at me to "Wake up! Wake up!" Todd got it on film. I will not be sharing.

Needless to say, the next day wasn't pretty for me, despite my intentions to feel fine on January 1. Oh well ... next time I'll need to eat. Shouldn't be a problem for me. Never is. :)

Since then, we've just being getting back into the swing of things. We take trips to the mall to break up any monotony and play outside when it's nice.

The girls are providing us with a lot of entertainment these days, too, as they both sit up independently and love to be with one another. They just sit and laugh and coo at each other. I think their "twin talk" has already started. They seem to communicate while the rest of us can't understand a word they're saying.

But I think they're also saying English words, too. I'm pretty sure they're both saying, "Hi!" Yesterday, I picked Gracie up from her crib and I said, "Hi!" to her when I picked her up. She responded with the like. It was hysterical.

They also proclaim their two word greeting whenever a cat walks into the room. It's as clear as day, "Hi!" Adorable.

Last night we discovered that Grace has a tooth. It's just this little white nub on her bottom gum and while it's too small to even feel it's certainly visible. She hasn't done much complaining, either, so it was a big surprise. What fun!

And crawling -- we're almost there. On the 4th, Faith popped herself up on all fours and started rocking back and forth. She's still doing it now, but is figuring out that if she moves her hands forward, her whole body moves too. As soon as she coordinates her legs in there, she'll be off like a shot. And I'll be drinking heavily.

Grace doesn't seem to have as much interest in crawling. Instead, she just wants to skip it all and go straight to standing. She cannot handle being seated in my lap -- she must be standing. And if you hold her hands while she's sitting on the floor in front of you, she'll pull herself up. Luckily, she hasn't figured out pulling up on furniture yet, but I'm sure that's not far behind. Again, break out the alcohol. I'm gonna need it.

This week has been particularly exciting in that San Antonio got the biggest ice storm its seen in 20 years. The storm rolled in on Monday afternoon and by Monday night, it was sleeting hard. Tuesday morning brought a sheet of ice on everything and the neighborhood kids had a great time using their boogie boards to slide down the hill in our front yard. It sleeted all day long and covered everything in sight with at least 1/2" to 3/4" of ice. We stayed inside and kept a fire burning all day long.

Wednesday was more of the same -- sleet and rain and lots and lots of ice. It started to not be fun anymore. The kids were out of school for the third straight day (Monday was the MLK Holiday) and all of the parents around here were pulling their hair out, ready to send their kids packing back to school.

By Wendesday afternoon, though, the storm had let up and I was able to make it over to ZZ's house for some much-needed interaction for the kids. It was the first time I had left the house since Monday morning. I needed OUT!

Unfortunately, though, the storm did more than just dump a bunch of ice on us. It also screwed up our much-anticipated DisneyWorld trip...again.

Two years ago, ZZ and I decided we would take a trip -- just the two of us -- to DisneyWorld for our 30th and 35th birthdays. We booked it in June of 2005 and were set to go in January of 2006.

But November hit and there I was, unexpectedly pregnant with twins. We were devastated, but we rebooked the trip for January 17-21, 2007 and began planning.

We've been so excited as the week has approached, but our excitement turned to horror as we watched all flights out of San Antonio become cancelled. Sure enough, ours was one of them.

Fortunately, because we know our luck, we purchased travel insurance and it payed off -- AGAIN -- when we called Disney, pleaded our case and rebooked the trip to leave tomorrow, January 19 (Happy Birthday, Bridget!) and return on Tuesday, January 23. Essentially, the whole trip just got pushed back 48 hours.

But it was not without incident. We lost our reservation at Cinderella's Royal Table. Dinner at the Castle books very quickly and while we made our reservation months ago, it was for tonight when we, obviously, won't be there. When we tried to rebook, it was completely full the entire time we will be there.

I guess that just means that we'll have to go back. :)

So that's about it for me. I have lots of pictures, but someone is crying from the other room and I need to go see why naptime was only 40 minutes long. I'll post some soon, but probably not until after my return.

Thanks for bearing with me.