Wednesday, April 28, 2010

STS: Disney is Done

Well, after the last post I decided to buy a couple of the images the park photographers took.

Good family photos in front of the Disneyworld icons. Obviously Lucy was not into the whole "say cheese" thing.

We had 4 day passes for Disneyworld and we opted not to go to Hollywood Studios. Instead, we spent a second day at Magic Kingdom doing more "Gumball" and Barnstormer rides.
It was a great day--we got to the park at opening and then left midday, hitting all of our favorite rides again and checking off It's A Small World which we hadn't done the first day there.
This, then, concludes our 2010 trip to Disneyworld.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

STS: Disney Day 3 Epcot

One of our Disney days was at Epcot. And can you even believe that we failed to get a photo of anyone in front of the big ball? Well, we did have a park photographer take one, but that will cost us $15--still haven't decided if we should buy one or not.

One of the highlights at Epcot was talking to Crush the sea turtle after going on Nemo's ride. That was pretty cool, and something new since our last trip 5ish years ago.

It looks like our kids have free roam of the fishies here, but really there was a sea (ahem) of people all taking the same pictures. Funny

Lucy refused to let me take a picture of her with her siblings in front of the cool planets...

but she did let Daddy zoom her by on his back...

and then Daddy and the other kids left to go ride the ride, and Lucy gave me this pose...

because she's three and that's how she rolls. It was at this gift shop that we got her the absolute best shirt. Next time she wears it, I'll take a picture and post it for you all.
At Epcot the girls spent quite a bit of time waiting to visit with various characters...

Chip and Dale:

Donald--the one character that Lucy was brave enough to give a kiss...

We did not, however, wait in line for some of the most popular rides...perhaps that was a mistake, but we had fun doing the things we did.

Also at Epcot we had some waffles from "Norway." Disney's do not compare to Katharine's, but they were a good snack and kept our bellies happy until we could get out of the park and somewhere for a very late dinner.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

STS--Disney: Day 2 Magic Kingdom

I don't even know where to begin. I think it's fair to say that Magic Kingdom far exceeded Cory's expectations. They had a blast, and out of all the places we visited, this was the one place where none of the kids complained about how tired their legs were.
Cory, Mary Beth and Riley all rode Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, claiming those as their favorites, but they also enjoyed Goofy's Barnstormer. Lucy was just about a centimeter too short to ride Barnstormer, which is notable because our friends took their son when he was two years old, and he was tall enough for the ride, but short little Lucy (in the 1 percentile for height) at 3 1/2 was too little.

She wasn't too little for Dumbo, however, or, as she calls it, Gumball.

And the tea cups were a favorite for all the kids--Daddy did a good job of making this a "thrill" ride. I'm afraid if I had ridden it it would have been a "throw up" ride, so I stayed on the sidelines and snapped pictures.

Early on, we let the girls pick out a lanyard and a trading pin set... Riley is counting her pins.

Before the end of the trip, Cory used his souvenir money for a lanyard and pin, and we bought Lucy one, too. The girls traded pins a couple of times with various Disney employees.

Dinner with Pooh and his friends was a highlight for the kids. Can you believe Riley, at 10, is an adult for this meal? It was at this meal that Cory really seemed to enjoy himself. He never wanted to stand in line to meet and greet characters while we were roaming the parks--there was always a roller coaster line he'd rather stand in. But at dinner he really seemed to enjoy the characters and wanted to give each of them a great big hug.

Riley and Mary did NOT mind standing in lines for character autographs, though.

Lucy LOVED, LOVED, LOVED going to Minnie's and Mickey's houses. We went through Minnie's house at least 3 different times.

We ended up visiting Magic Kingdom twice. The first time we stayed until the fireworks...which Lucy and I missed because she was so scared. We ended up hanging out in a gift shop the whole time. We returned on our last day for a few hours to enjoy some of our favorite rides a few more times. At one point I saw a family with 4 children who looked to match up with ours, but about 5 years older than each of our kids, and I wondered if we would be back as a family in a few years. I can tell you one thing--if any more of our kids become "adults," it will take that long to save the $$ needed. ;)

Monday, April 19, 2010

STS--Disney: Day 1 Animal Kingdom

We arrive in Orlando after a few days at the beach and prepare to visit our first Disney Park on Saturday. We begin our adventure at Animal Kingdom. First stop is the Safari ride that will take us past the animal habitats. We see rhinos, elephants, zebras, crocodiles,'s a good start. Or so we think. Once we get off of this "ride," we decide to stroll through some of the Gorilla habitat. This makes Cory less than happy. He lets us know quite plainly that "this is not what I expected! When will we ride roller coasters?"
At this point, he was clearly NOT impressed with Disneyworld. After seeing the gorillas, we oblige Cory and head towards Animal Kingdom's only thrill ride. Somehow Cory meets the size requirements for Expedition Everest. Lucy, Riley and I hang back while Ted, Mary Beth and Cory get in line. I see one of the descents and turns that they're about to take and begin to wonder if Cory should really be on this ride. They come out of it all with their eyes as big as saucers. It had some unexpected thrills, even for Ted. But they seemed to all enjoy it and were eager for more. Unfortunately for Cory, that would be about it in terms of "rides" at Animal Kingdom. There was one other ride, similar to Magic Kingdom's Dumbo that he could go on, but it paled in comparison. However, he seemed okay with it, now that he had ridden his first real roller coaster.
We took in a couple of 3-D shows, which were frightening to Lucy, even though she didn't wear the special glasses. However, she loved the parade, and spent the whole time waving to all of the characters who came by--distance is good.

She also enjoyed identifying the enormous and beautiful puppets that were part of the parade. Some of the puppeters had a hard job, if you ask me.

While here, we were also able to say hello to a few characters. We chatted with Jiminy Cricket

and Pluto, who was obviously very tickled--I bet Mary Beth was tickling him--look, she even looks guilty. It was a good first day, even if it got off to a rocky start. Besides all this, we also saw a Komodo Dragon (which, strangely enough, had come up in our school work last month a couple of times) and dug for "dinosaur bones." And when all was said and done, we were all bone tired ourselves. Time to rest up for tomorrow--MAGIC KINGDOM!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

STS--St. Augustine, Florida

Months before we had any idea we'd be going to Florida this spring, I read an article in Family Fun magazine singing the praises of a day trip to St. Augustine. When we began planning out our trip, I remembered the recommendation and pulled out the old magazine to show Ted. At that point, neither of us was sure if this would be plausible, but we kept it in consideration as we did more planning.
As it turned out, the first condo we rented was just an hour or so away from St. Augustine. Also, in a serendipitous sort of way, the weekend before we left I attended a fundraising auction put on by the Spouses' Club here. Among the many items available in the silent auction were 4 tickets for an Old Town Trolley tour good in several different cities, to include St. Augustine. For a mere $15 I won those tickets (worth over $70), and the plans started getting firmer. We would only need to buy one more ticket, since children under 5 ride free. Yay us.
We head out for St. Augustine and navigate our way to a trolley station. Once on board, we head to our first stop, The Old Jail. The kids were apparently immediately identified as criminal...

But they must have made good with the sheriff, because they were later seen hanging out with him (or maybe he was just keeping a really close eye on them).

We had tickets for a tour, which was done by an interpreter in character. Our particular guide was a "Deputy." Lucy was not too sure about this strange guy who was fairly intimidating. When he led us into the dark, dank jail she was really all done. We tried hard to console her, but she would not be calmed, so eventually I led her out. He told some interesting tales, which I assumed to be historically correct. The kids enjoyed some of the outdoor displays of various punishments. The birdcage was probably their favorite. We all took a turn inside it.
Peek-a-boo Lucy!

After this we left, stopping at an old drug store (not as interesting as the locals made it out to be, but, hey, it was free, so no biggie), and then we walked over to an open air pedestrian mall area with shops, restaurants, and some museums. We visited the first one-room wooden school house, and the kids took turns ringing the bell. That was quite annoying--and of course, every child (including ours) who comes through thinks they need to ring it, too.

After lunch we walked across the street to Castillo de San Marcos. This Spanish fort was built to protect St. Augustine from English expansion and is the oldest masonry fortification in the U.S. Cory loved this place with all the cannons, even though by now he was pretty whiny about all the walking.

We proceeded to wait for a trolley, which took much longer than we expected. Long enough that we eventually decided to walk back to the trolley stop where the van was. Along the way Lucy started doing somersaults. Funny kids.
It was a good trip--beautiful day, interesting sites. If you are ever in the area we recommend you spend some time checking it out.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

GATLIN STS Mission update

It's been a couple of days since we've been able to post any new photos or trip details. That's because we're on vacation, and while on vacation we are making sure to spend every waking second having fun (the kids probably think this term is used out of place) and taking in the sights. That means that by the time we have the kids in bed, we only have about an hour before we, ourselves, are passed out from exhaustion. And let's face it, Ted and I, being the Type A personalities that we are, have to plan the next day, so that leaves little time for extraneous things. But for our 14 faithful followers, here's a quick post with a few pictures.

We left the beach (collective sigh) for Disney (much rejoicing from the 10 and under crowd). I loved the beach. Much more than I thought I would. Of course, we did have an ocean front condo, with a heated pool only steps from our door. If I could live like that all the time, I would. Hurricanes and all. But until then, sign me up for this vacation every year.

While on the East coast, we visited St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement in America. This really deserves a separate post. Until then, I'll tease you with this fun picture.

Thanks to our handy dandy iPhone with the geocaching app we purchased for it, we've been able to do quite a bit of geocaching, as well.

This app is really fantastic--we can geocache at the spur of the moment--checking for a cache while we're sightseeing, and then logging our find immediately after finding it. It has let us cache completely "green." The best example of this is a cache we found while eating ice cream and waiting for our trolley. Cory said, "Hmm...I wonder if there are any caches around here." Ted pulled out his iPhone on the quick draw, and checked the app. Immediately, he saw on the map that there was one right next to our park bench. And just like that, we signed the physical log, and logged our find on the electronically on the website. Bam-no papers, no research, no nothin'!

Today was our first day at a Disney park. The pictures are not yet downloaded, and there's just so much to say, that I'll save that for another day.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

GATLIN STS Day 4 (before the launch)

Our trip to watch the shuttle launch put us on the road on Easter morning. Some of our traditional activities were difficult to do, but we did try to mark the day with a few special activities that we could take on the road. We started the morning making Resurrection buns for breakfast.
Mary's "tomb" is ready to go in the pan and be baked.
While our resurrection buns baked we had an Easter egg hunt in the condo. We had to be a little creative with our Easter "baskets" since there wasn't really room in the van for them. So, a couple of sand buckets, Daddy's hat, and an activity box did the trick.
The kids were very excited. To make it easy for them, they each have a certain egg color to find...we hide Lucy's fairly obviously and Riley's are hidden well.
After opening all their eggs and discovering the Easter Bunny brought them money for souvenirs it was time to check on our Resurrection bun "tombs." Before they ate them, I gave each kid the most valuable egg of the bunch and had them all open it at the same time...
Like the Resurrection buns, this egg was empty. He is risen!
Then, it seemed like a fun idea to go hang out at the beach for a few hours.

After that we headed to a Wal-Mart for some last minute things we would need for the launch, and then, as I mentioned yesterday, we settled in for a few hours of sleep. A good Easter. We missed church, although I did stumble upon a sunrise service on the beach when I went out for an early morning walk. The kids won't have fancy Easter pictures this year...don't think that's what it's all about, though, so it will be okay.