Saturday, June 30, 2007

Party Of The Year

I think I had the most fun that I've ever had in my life last night. It helps when your with your best friends. It's moments like these that you'll always remember. I'm keeping it nice here, though. I'd like to keep those friends, so I'm only posting the nice ones here. Besides, I've already emailed all the other pictures proof to them anyway. Ha.
* * * *
Shawn, me and Emily.

"Pucker up!" (The stuff was called Pucker.)

Em, Shawn, Me, Rod and Jon.

The Bunco Girls. This is the group that gets together once a month for a girls night out. I don't think we've actually played in 2 years though.

I said I would be nice here, but you know I can't ignore it when Bret and Emily broke out the worm!

Great night. Great friends. I'm going to miss them so much!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Cat In The Hat

What a maniac! We're pretty hard up for entertainment over here!

The kids are spending the night elsewhere overnight tonight while Bret and I party with Emily and Jon and the rest of the neighbors one last time before they move next month. (Hence the sleeping bag on Ryan's head.)

On a more serious note, we had to take Daisy to the vet today because she hasn't been eating and she's not walking very well. Turns out she sprained her back. Poor thing. We were worried it could be something more serious and thankful it's not. (Or at least it won't be when we get the results of her blood work tomorrow.) No more fetching the ball for now. Doc's orders, Daisy!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The 21 Day Challenge Begins...


...tomorrow. Our purple Complaint Free bracelets finally (crap, hold on while I change wrists again!) showed up yesterday in the mail. It's much harder than I thought. When I opened the mail box and saw them sitting there I got this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and thought, "Oh, I did order those, didn't I?" and then "Oh, I am so not ready for this!"

I put one on, as did Ashley and her friend that was over for the day, and began my 21 day journey to a world with no complaining. I got caught 4 times in the first hour of wearing it, twice last night during an impromptu party with the neighbors and then starting catching myself mid conversations at T-Ball today. I don't think the darn thing (hold on - changing wrists again) has stayed on one wrist for more than a couple of hours at a time. And we won't talk about the period of time when I was cranky and stressed out this morning and ended up just taking it off for awhile.

The good news is that tomorrow I'm going to buckle down and get through my first day without complaining. I'm going to be a better, more patient mommy and count to ten before I respond to the next potty accident, sibling fighting, food spilled on the floor and constant whining and repeating of questions after being told no from child number 2. (Fine, that rant counts too, but it's the last time I'm changing wrists for the next 21 days.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Saw My First Funnel Cloud Today

We met up with a bunch of neighbor's at the pool today for some fun in the hot humid sun over in Chillicothe. Upon arriving, as the kids were getting ready to jump into the pool, I looked up and saw a dark cloud moving over the area to the north of us. Out of the dark cloud looked to be a funnel slowly forming and dropping lower and lower. Everyone was watching, including the lifeguards, but within 5 minutes it had lifted back up into the clouds and was gone. It was a hot one today, and we lasted about 3 hours when the thunder started and lightning was spotted. The pool was evacuated and we took off for home. We're all brain dead right now, but heading out for Ryan's t-ball game anyway.

And I'm kicking myself right now, because I had the camera with me but never thought to take a picture of it.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Side Tracked

Bret and I dropped the kids off at his parent's house for the afternoon while we went in search of a new home computer. (Ours has been acting up lately.) Disgusted with how much they cost and figuring we could get a better deal building one ourselves through Dell, we soon got caught up in the impossibly competitive search for the new Nintendo Wii.

You see, Teri and Scott just bought one and that's all Ashley has been talking about this week. Bret's been over there, too and has become hooked. After checking MANY stores in the area and finding them sold out, we became more and more determined to get one. Five and a half hours later, we found the only one left within a 50 mile radius of Peoria. And bought it. Several hundred dollars later (thanks a lot, Teri & Scott - LOL), our living room has been turned into a tennis court, baseball field, bowling alley, golf course and boxing ring.

I'm also impressed, because Ryan has picked it up extremely fast. We haven't told him yet that they're coming out with a Star Wars game later this year for it where you actually control the light sabres yourself.

And I am still waiting for MY turn!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Disney Vacation Slideshow

The DVD slideshow I've been working on is now completed, but since I've been having a hard time posting videos on here, I'm just going to give you the link instead. So click here if you would like to check it out.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pictures Loaded

Day 1 & 2 of our Disney World pictures are up at Flickr. I'll try to finish the rest soon.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Today was Chloe's first time coming to the pool with us and she did great! She had a blast and provided us with endless laughs. Once she got use to the water, she was fearless. The water must have really looked refreshing, because she kept putting her face down to it and licking it with her tongue. She loved crawling in it, too - sometimes to the point where I had to keep getting up to turn her around because she would have kept on going. Whoever thought of the zero depth pool is a genius!
She kept squealing in delight the whole afternoon.

Ryan has become more fearless at the pool as well this summer. He found quite a few uses for this fountain of water. As we speak, he is so worn out and fighting it that his eyes are rolling into the back of his head as he's watching TV.

Everyone loves a cute plumber.

Camera Dump

Ryan's First Year Playing T-Ball
(Taken last Tuesday.)
He didn't even need the Tee.

Run, Ryan, Run!

Safe at first.

First Pool Trip of the Summer.

(Taken last Friday.)

Ryan no longer needs to be caught at the end of the slide. Yes!

Wow, that's cold water!

What a pro.

Heading back out to a different pool today with the kids. This will be Chloe's first trip to the pool with us.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Post Vacation/Weekend Update

  • Finally found the bottom of the hamper tonight.
  • Vacation pictures have been sorted and organized. Will maybe get them to Flickr sometime in the near future. Doubtful, but we'll see.
  • Vacation video slideshow is half way there. Will post link when done.
  • Missed two neighborhood parties due to my post vacation chaos. Heard they got crazy - darn!
  • Airline has me hooked on wheat and cheddar crackers. Had to search 3 stores to find them. Thank you, Sam's Club!
  • Thought we left the hot and humid Florida weather behind us - seems to have followed us home.
  • Looking forward to a somewhat normal week ahead of me.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ryan Takes On The Dark Side!

Ryan vs. Darth Maul at Disney's MGM Studios Star Wars Weekends!

Try this link if the video still doesn't work!

Day 5: June 10, 2007 - The Day My Son Became A Jedi

This morning we woke up at 7:15am and were all very excited to get to MGM so we could catch the Star Wars parade and take another shot at getting the kids into the Jedi Training Academy.

We were downstairs for breakfast (I'm sure you all know where we ate by now.) by 8am and at MGM by 9am. Whoo hoo! We made it! The lines were long to get in once again, but we really didn't mind because there were storm troopers positioned over head and I never realized that they were so funny before. They were communicating to each other about all of us in line, poking fun here and there. During our wait, Ryan had a little fun with them. He pointed a pretend light saber at the one standing just over us and the Storm Trooper pointed his finger at him and took aim with his gun and pretended to shoot at him. Ryan was all over this and they kept it up for a few more minutes.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Once we were admitted to the park we headed straight for the Jedi Training Academy stage for their first one of the day. Instead of standing in the middle of the lined up kids the way we had before, we had Ryan, Quentin and Skyler all stand in the corner right along the rope, closest to the stage and where the characters enter from behind the billboard. The show began and the two Jedi's came out and start picking kids from the audience.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Ryan was the second one to get picked! Quentin and Skyler were both picked soon after. All three were out on stage putting their robes on and receiving their "training" light sabers! One of the Jedi's stayed up on stage with Skyler's group and the other came down to where Ryan and Quentin were.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The training began. "Aim for the right shoulder, then the left. Now duck, then go for the right leg, now the left and then aim for the head!" they were told repeatedly as they practiced. Unfortunately, with Ryan's hearing loss he could only hear the Jedi onstage using the microphone so he was turned around the wrong way facing the wrong Jedi. Too cute.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Just then the Jedi's felt a change in the force.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Could it be? Two storm troopers enter the stage to secure the area as the Jedi's move the padawan learners safely to the side of the stage. It is! Darth Vader strides out in a cloud of smoke from behind the billboard and enters onto the stage.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

He tells the Jedi's that the force is strong with these kids. He then asks the kids to come with him to the dark side and he'll show them all of the ways of the sith and make them the most powerful Jedi's ever.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The kid's refused and out comes Darth Maul and the battle begins.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Each padawan on stage takes their turn at Darth Vader as each one on the ground below goes up against Darth Maul. All were instantly mesmerized by how graceful Darth Maul is in battle. Unfortunately none of us actually have a picture of our kids battling them because our cameras were busy in video camera mode. Ryan's turn came to go up against Darth Maul and he was pretty awestruck, I think. He did what he was suppose to do, but once again the hearing aids came into play and all he could hear were the instructions that the kid on stage fighting Darth Vader was hearing. As their battle came to an end, Ryan stood at the side while others took their turns just in complete excitement. He was loving every minute of it!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The battle had ended and no Padawan had given in to the dark side. Yoda's voice emerges through the music as he tells Darth Vader, "Strong with these young ones, the force is." He basically tells Vader to get lost and then the head Jedi tells the young Padawans that they are now true Padawan Leaners and to follow the ways of the force. Certificates were handed out and we had three very happy kids on our hands. What a truely awesome experience!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

After the training was over we had 45 minutes left until the start of the Star Wars Parade so we grabbed a bench nearby and claimed it as our own. While waiting for the parade, Bret & Scott took the kids across from where we were sitting to meet characters as they came out.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The parade began and we snapped pictures like crazy!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

When the parade ended we fought the crowds back over to the stage and snapped more pictures and then headed down to Mickey Avenue to find Jabba's Hut. On the way there we ran into Greedo who was done taking pictures, but agreed to a couple more, but after finding some shade first. I can't imagine how hot they get in those costumes. Ryan was in total awe. Greedo is his favorite character. I think he was starting to believe that they were real.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We went into Jabba's Hut in hopes for a better selection of merchandise, but were really disappointed. We headed back to Tatooine to buy Ryan a Jedi robe and a storm trooper gun. Bret found two t-shirts for himself and Ashley found one herself. I had pretty much decided on getting a T-shirt and a sweatshirt that I had seen back at the gift shop at our resort and bought those later on our way back in.

Done with MGM now, we hopped on a shuttle to Epcot. We went back to Sunshine Season's for lunch because it had been so good the first time. It was even better the second time! Next we headed over to catch Honey, I Shrunk The Audience. Once again there was no wait time. I think that was the nicest surprise throughout this whole trip. You could walk up to any show and not have to wait. The show was good, but I guess I had been expecting some kind of backyard scene from the original movie.

After the show we stopped to check out the cool fountains and thought about how refreshing they looked. Obviously, we didn't think about it for very long.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And to think that before lunch we were so tired and exhausted that we were planning on eating and calling it a day since we had to be up at 3am to catch our flight out the next moring.

Looks like we didn't think much about how dark the skies looked off in the distance either...

Leaving the fountains behind and feeling much more refreshed, many stopped us to ask where the water rides were. He He He. Our next destination was The Living Seas and we stopped for the only complete group picture of the entire vacation.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We headed inside to ride Nemo and start to freeze our behinds off because we are so thoroughly soaked but we head over to watch Turtle Talk With Crush anyway. We promise ourselves that we are going to go back to the resort and start packing after this. Crush is probably my favorite show in all of Disney. He was so incredibly funny - a definate must see.

So we leave the show and head to the door to leave when we hear the thunder and see all the people come running in. It's storming outside and while we secretly know we should leave because we're never going to be able to get up at 3am at this rate, we stay because that's what any normal and sane person would do, right?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

So while checking out all the cool fish I am still a bit bummed that I haven't gotten to ride Soarin' since the standby lines have been 85 minutes all day and fast pass return wasn't until 7:30pm. I suddenly had a great idea! It was raining pretty good outside, but we were right next door to The Land. Surely every other sane person at Disney was waiting out the rain indoors. So why don't we just run over there and see if the line for Soarin has gone down? Everyone jumped on that idea, threw on their rain ponchos and out the doors and into the rain we went. We got inside and went downstairs to find that the line still said 80 minutes, but it didn't look as busy as before so we went through. Twenty minutes later, we had ridden the most awesome ride of the day - two times! Whoo hoo!

On our way back to the hotel we stopped and took one more picture of the kids in front of the big golf ball since the rain had stopped.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sadly, we walked up to our room at Pop Century for the last time, taking pictures along the way.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Ryan cried the whole way up in the elevator because he said he never ever wanted to leave.

Our wake up call came at 3am and we groggily got out of bed, dressed and dragged our 5 suitcases downstairs to check out. The shuttle came at 3:45am and the plane took off on time at 7:15am. We arrived in Bloomington, IL, after an hour delay in Atlanta due to poor visibility, at 12:30pm our local time and were glad to see our minivan still there in the parking lot.

I knew I was home and the vacation was over when not 5 minutes into the drive back to Peoria, the kids had already started fighting.

Good-bye, Orlando! (Sniff Sniff)

Day 4: June 9, 2007 - Hot, Humid and Exhausted In Animal Kingdom- But, Hey! No Rain Today!!!

Last night was a very late night. It was about 2am by the time we fell into bed and gave in to exhaustion, so this morning we decided to sleep in. I’m not really sure what the plan was for in regards of when to wake up, but I think it was something to the effect of whenever we could pry our eyes open and still make it to MGM to try and catch the Star Wars parade we missed yesterday and maybe give the Jedi Training Academy one more try.

We woke up at 9:15am to the sound of my cell phone announcing that I had a text message. It was my mom responding to a picture text I had sent her the night before. We got out of bed and quickly dressed and were ready to go. However our friends next door were still dragging from their late night so we waited until they were ready and went down to eat breakfast at 9:45am. (I am so glad I took detailed notes while I was there or I’d never remember all of this right now.) Things were moving pretty slowly and we didn’t make it to the gate at MGM until 11am. By the time we were ready to enter the park we heard the parade already starting. Bummed and not sure what to do, we quickly decided to head out and go to Animal Kingdom instead.

We got to Animal Kingdom at noon and it was packed and already blazing hot and the air was dripping with humidity. The kids had their water misting fans that we had found at Walgreen’s back home and they paid for themselves in minutes.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Before going through the gates we found that Chip and Dale were giving out hugs so the kids got in the short line to take their turn. Ryan said they were excited to see him because they remembered him from the parade at MGM yesterday. Ashley was almost as tall as them.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Bret and the kids and I went off on our own to Dinoland and had good luck with the lines there. Ashley and I rode Primeval Whirl, which was a blast while Bret and Ryan went and rode TriceraTop Spin, which Ryan loved and Bret handled well too since there was no spinning involved.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

While in line for Primeval Whirl, Ashley and I almost got to experience a Magical Moment. A group of twenty or so in front of us in line were directed in a different direction and awarded a Magical Moment lanyard and pin. Then the next group of twenty received the same. We were in the group of the next twenty or so and getting really excited when they lifted the rope – and sent us on our merry way in the OTHER direction. The other direction! Can you believe that? (Sigh) At least we got to witness someone else having a Magical Moment.

We next ran into a couple of cute looking dinosaurs.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Our next destination was over to Dinosaur where we met up with Teri, Scott and the kids. They rode the ride while I took Ryan over to the Boneyard to play. I sure wasn’t going to push him to do that one. They came back saying it was pretty scary. Bret said that Ashley kept her head down most of the time.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We were ready for some air conditioning next so we headed over to Finding Nemo The Musical. The kids and I thought it was a great show, but Bret fell asleep during it, saying that he though it was boring. We’ll just blame that one on heat exhaustion.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We decided to eat lunch at Restaurantasaurus, which is pretty much a McDonald’s – just more expensive and with a very long wait for your food. The food was good and after eating we were reading to take off again.

Next we contemplated if we had the guts to go on Expedition Everest. We were planning on getting a fast pass for that and then waiting in line for Kali River Rapids. That is until we got a close up of Everest and heard the Yeti roaring and the people on the ride screaming. And wouldn’t you know it? They closed down the ride for some reason or another as we were walking past it, so we took that as a sign to keep on walking.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The wait for Kali was another long one – 80 minutes. Everyone wanted to ride it and the fast pass time was for 6:30-7:30pm. That’s the thing about those fast passes – unless you get them in the morning, they either give you return times hours from now when you have plans to be elsewhere or they’ve just plain run out of them. The other thing is that when you’re in the stand by line and the fast pass line starts to fill up, it brings your line to a complete stop while they load those people. It was great when we used it on Space Mountain, but just too hard to plan for when you’re with a group of 8 people that all want to do different things. So we got in line and waited for Kali. It actually only took 40 minutes to get through and we did get incredibly soaked. The ride was fun but didn’t last long enough. If we had fast passed it, Ryan could definitely have ridden that one.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

While we were waiting for Kali, Bret and Ryan were off with Bret back in Dinoland in his favorite place there – The Boneyard.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

They rode TriceraTop Spin again and even found Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore without anyone else in line. Ryan got a bit ticked off at Tigger though, because he poked him in the eye. Poor Tigger.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We all met up again and took turns seeing It’s Tough To Be A Bug. Great show, but it would have freaked Ryan out.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

After the show, we left the park, but stopped at the Rain Forest Café so Quentin and Skyler could get some souvenirs.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Exhausted and overheated, we went back to the resort and stayed in the pool all evening. Teri and I ran into Everything Pop and brought dinner out for everyone. (I know we probably missed out on a lot of other great food, but it was just easier to eat there and it’s where we happened to be each time without having to wait in long lines for food in the parks.) The kids swam a bit longer with Bret and Scott (Teri and I were freezing at this point).

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We headed back upstairs and bathed the kids and were getting them ready for bed when the worst thing possible happened. We couldn’t find Ryan’s blanket anywhere. He hasn’t slept without it a single night in his life and the heartbreak and hysterics were already beginning to start. We had left it in the bed and I had this sinking feeling that housekeeping had gathered it up with the bedding when they came in to clean the room earlier. I called down to Housekeeping and was told that there was nothing they could do about it because they send their laundry out to be cleaned elsewhere and that I could check with lost and found in the morning. Have you ever had a child try to go to sleep thinking his blanket is lost forever? Not a lovely sight. I tried nicely to explain to her that this was an emergency and that we had to find that blanket! I was surprised at how rude she was to me. I kept asking her if there was some possible way it was still there somehow and what the chances were of it being returned and she became very impatient with me. Ryan was full out crying his heart out at this point and I couldn’t take anymore. Feeling helpless I told her I’d call in the morning and check back. After hanging up the phone Ashley grabbed a pillow off of the chair by the table and guess what was under there? Yes, the blanket. I was relieved (as was Ryan) but still put off by the way the lady had talked to me on the phone – as if some poor little boy hadn’t lost his blanket there before. I never did give my name or room number so I didn’t see the point in calling her back so we tucked a relieved and overtired Ryan into bed and hit the showers and turned in ourselves. This lack of sleep and pure exhaustion was getting to us. But behold – tomorrow was to be the day of all days – more Star Wars for the kids – and Bret & Scott, too.