Monday, March 30, 2009

Just Not Right

Remember the tooth? The one that has been hanging at disturbing angles for weeks.

Over and over again I have been thinking this tooth would finally come out.

Even after Grandpa tried yanking it on vacation

It FINALLY came out last night.

I should be saying Yippee!


Alas, my camera is still at church.

Oh well, I guess the tooth fairy will have to photograph the tooth AFTER it is picked up.

And my little boy really does look ALL GROWN UP!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Weekend Top Five 3/30/09

So I had some great pictures top go with my Top Five this week. Unfortunately, my camera got left on the shelf at church so it will be picture less this week. Maybe I'll share them with you later this week.

It got REALLY cold Saturday night and into Sunday. The "beautiful" snowfall that gets me excited in November is the SAME snowfall that I want to shout curses at in March. So when the slushy, heavy stuff was coming down Sunday morning, it was a little challenging to be cheerful.

5. Noah's Speed Stacks

Noah had a perfect week at school last week and came home with an award from his teacher. But more importantly for him, he finally earned the speed stacks that I got for him a couple of months ago. I told him he couldn't have them until he had a perfect week, with no tigers out all week. He spent the entire weekend performing the 3-6-3 and the 1-10-1 for us. Once again, I had some AWESOME pictures to go with this point...oh well.

4. Go Fish Concert
If you haven't heard of this group, I strongly recommend them for car tunes. This is a group whose sole mission was to "create music that won't drive parents nuts" and their music is very wonderful harmonically, great melodies, pretty loud and crazy, and spiritually based. Some of our favorite songs are "The Mom Song", "Get Your Jammies on" and "The Bible Book Bop". Noah has been listening to "Snazzy" on his MP3 player even since he got it for Christmas and when he took the player to school for show and tell, the whole class boogied to that and another one the songs "American Kid". If you click on any of the titles, I have included the links to You Tube performances. You HAVE to listen to The Mom Song. It is awesome!

Anyway, Steve heard that they were performing a benefit concert in Holland Friday night so we went out. It was very cool. It was basically a gymnasium, where the concert was set up but there was a big open space where the kids spent two hours pretty much rocking it out. They had a blast and it was fun to give them the opportunity to just go crazy.

3. Children's Museum

Yup, we went again on Saturday. After Noah (yes, Noah) took a nap on Saturday, we went to the museum for just about an hour until it closed. The boys once again had a great time playing on the "Blue Man Group" instruments.

2. Noah's Solo

It was our last Cherub Choir performance of the year on Sunday. I had been rehearsing "The Butterfly Song" with the kids all year since every single kid in choir had a solo in it. This past Wednesday, a couple of kids started chickening out and Noah stepped and did their solos too. It is amazing to me how a little boy with such an amazing vibrato can put up such a fight to actually use that instrument of his. People kept coming up to him afterward telling him what a great job he did, and he got a little embarrassed.

I did however discover that one of my parents put the video of them singing on You Tube. If you want to see 2:12 of cuteness, including Noah singing solo on wiggly worm and crocodile, click here. I put it on my facebook page as well.

1. Noah's Book

I just realized how "Noah heavy" this post is. I will have to make it up to Aaron soon.

Anyway, several weeks ago Noah was supposed to bring home a BIG bag full of writing supplies and create a book. It turned into such a huge hassle and the book never got done. So in Noah's Friday folder,was a "nice" note about the teacher needing the book completed and returned to school on Monday.

So we spent most of the weekend working on it. We actually had some pretty big battles while we were working on it, since he was determined to create it in ways not fulfilling the teacher's requirements.

When it was finally completed, it turned out really cute. I will once again post pictures when I get my camera back.

The week ahead:
Not much happening this week. My big plan is to do some more research into school options for Aaron for next year. I have two school districts that I need to contact about "school of choice"
options and whether they have Young Fives programs or not. No school on Friday for the beginning of Spring Break. Not sure what Spring Break holds yet. Hopefully I will find out soon when little league will start and then we may be able to make an overnight trip possible.

Please let me know if you posted about the weekend and link below. I do have a couple more vacation posts, but in general, I am back to normal.

Have a great week!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Review: Minty Refreshment

I have become a slacker blogger. While packing for vacation, I received the new LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE Anticavity Mouthwash to review. I packed it into my suitcase, planning to take it with me and use it during the vacation, and write my review when I got home.

Shame on
me...I got going with all of my vacation posts and neglected to tell you how much I used this product. I used it every night after brushing. I have not normally been a big user of mouthwash, but I was intrigued to try it for several reasons:
1. Noah has been using a "plaque identifying" pre-wash for awhile a
nd I thought I should be getting myself into a similar habit
2. I have been having some major tooth pain and I need to see a dentist soon regarding the problem.

So when I was contacted by Mom Central to review this produce, I was thrilled with t
he opportunity. Her are the major benefits of this new product:

LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE,Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash, now available, is the only fluoride mouthwash that contains six benefits in one:

· Helping to pre
vent cavities
· Restoring enamel
· Strengthening teeth
· Killing bad breath germs

· Freshening breath
· Fighting unsightly plaque above the gum line

I was drawn by the claim to "restoring enamel". If this was indeed true, I could prevent any further damage until I get to the dentist to get my problems taken care.

While using it, you can definitely tell that it is working. It kin
d of stung a little the first couple of times, but I think it is because there was such a mass of germs that needed to be attacked. Each day got little better and I LOVED how clean my mouth felt afterward.

So I definitely think this product is a good purchase, and I plan to continue it's use in the future.
This post was written on behalf of Mom Central

p.s. I will let you know how the dentist thing turns out as soon as I gather the courage to go :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Photo Story: Our Marathon Day at Magic Kingdom

After a long week of "vacationing", there were still quite a few rides at the Magic Kingdom that we had wanted to experience with the kids but had not had a chance to. So, like you read about here, we had a character dinner with my family scheduled on Friday, our last day at 4:00. We were planning to go to dinner and then hang around the park for the rest of the night to watch the night parade and fireworks.

Steve and I decided that since it was our last day, we would make it count and do a marathon day, from the time the park opened until after the fireworks ended at night.

We knew it was going to be a long and exhausting day, but we are SO glad that we chose to do it. It was the most fun day we had in the parks by far. There were lots of things that we didn't even know about that we got to experience since we got there at opening.

We started out bright and early at 7:00, hoping to get to the parks before it actually opened at 9:00. We got into the outside gate around 8:15 and waited among the crowds (remember this picture from Wednesday?).

The first surprise came at about five minutes to 9. A "welcome show" was held right outside the entrance and all of the characters arrived by train to open the park. It was could feel the energy. I didn't get any pictures because we were looking right into the sun, but we did get some video of it. Noah passed some time by taking silly pictures of Steve with my camera.

When we first walked into the park, we headed right to the "lands" that we wanted to do.

The first thing we came to was Aladdin's Magic Carpet. No line! Cool!

The boys and I jumped right on while Steve went to get fastpasses for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

After riding it once, the ride operator told us we could go again if we wanted since there were no people. After two more times, Steve came back, got on and we went yet one MORE time.

Hyped up from our good luck, we headed to Pirates of the Carri bean. Again, NO WAIT. Walked right through and onto a boat. We were even more amazed when we discovered the operator of the ride was a student at the school my taught at before he retired. What a small world! Although the ride was dark and eerie, the kids handled it quite well and we were off to more stuff.

We moved on to Splash Mountain (again, no wait) but as we loaded, the ride broke down and we had to get off...first broken ride of the day.

So off to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Our fastpass was for 10:15 and it was 10:00 with a five minute wait. Let's go ahead and go...

Here came our first glimpse of the day of Noah's "demons" from the Everest ride two days previous (which I mentioned in this post). The kid who LOVED every roller coaster he had ever been on in his life, started crying uncontrollably because he was so scared to go on the ride. Steve and I struggled between one of us taking Aaron and the other sitting off with Noah or just biting the bullet and doing it.

Yup, the bad parents that we are, we just moved him along. I kind of felt that if he was going to get over this issue, we needed to just do it. The part that he was scared of was because that DARN Yeti jumped out at him. It took a lot of convincing that nothing would jump out at him on this ride.

We got through it one time and our fastpass was ready so we just turned around and rode it again. I still can't believe we were able to ride that ride TWICE in a row.

So off we headed to Haunted Mansion. Once again, NO WAIT. We walked right in again.

Noah had recuperated a little from his "trauma" and we loaded into the cars. The spooky music kind of freaked them both out a little but they were fine...
Oh yes, yet another ride broke down. And where should it break down? The spooky graveyard with loud creepy music and ghosts continually popping out at them from behind gravestones. We sat there for a good 8 or 9 minutes before we went again. No one was interested in doing this one again.

So it was now around 11:00 and we had done most of the rides we had wanted to tackle the entire day. So we headed to Dumbo and waited in a line (still only 30 minutes) and checked that ride off the list.

We did actually get back to Splash Mountain, where Noah started in on his minor panic attack again, but he got over it when we told him to just watch the story of Brer Rabbit which we had read at home. Once again, the ride was still not quite working properly, and there were major "log jams" and we kept ramming into the logs in front of us while the ones behind us kept ramming into us. The good thing was that I didn't get wet, which was good because everyone else was coming off it soaked and I really didn't feel like being wet for the rest of the evening.

Then it was off to re-ride Space Ranger Spin, which had been the favorite on Monday. My score, sad to say, did NOT improve. I still don't understand how Aaron can get 1000 points, Noah can get 1400 points, I can get 4000 points and my STINKER of a husband can get 50,000 POINTS.

While over there, we took in the people mover through Space Mountain and the Monsters, Inc. Show (which was very funny).

We stopped to eat our sandwiches we had brought for lunch and were starting to get tired so we headed up to ride a few spins around the park on the railroad. By that point, it was time to start gathering for the afternoon parade, and then head over to dinner with the family.

We also were caught by surprise by a neat character show right out front of the castle that even included it's own little firework show. Aaron was talking about seeing "the REAL Peter Pan" for days afterward.

After dinner, we needed to actually WAIT for rides since the fastpasses were gone, but we didn't mind. We made it to the jungle cruise, where Aaron was invited to drive the boat for a little while

I thought it was kind of neat that every time there was a crowd waiting for a parade, a Disney "cast member" would put out fun activities in the streets for kids to do. Noah is quite the hula hooper!

Are you exhausted reading this? I am again just writing about it. But it really was a good thing that we did it. I was glad we did it on the last day so that the "grumpies" from being tired the next day were spent in the car on the ride toward home.

My T13 for next week will be the images from the evening from this long and eventful day. But for now, I need to go take a shower, get dressed, and take Aaron to the park.

Have a great Friday!

Dinner With Pooh and Friends

My brother and SIL were generous to treat our entire group (11 of us in total) to a character dinner at the Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom on our last night of vacation.

Yup, we do stand out a little all in red

The four of us had been in the park since it had opened that morning, so we were a little more grumpy than we should have been when we first arrived, but luckily, the spirit and joy returned pretty quickly when:
A. We got a look at he amazing spread of food at the buffet
B. You just can't be grumpy when Tigger is bouncing around
C. How excited the boys were to see their cousins again

After getting our group settled between two tables, we took turns heading to the buffet for food for children and ourselves.
Noah was still on his eating freeze because of the dumb tooth (that STILL wont come out) but was thrilled to head over to the dessert bar with my dad and pile his bowl full of ice cream and sprinkles.

We were honored to be visited by Pooh



and Tigger, who definitely had the most personality of the characters. My niece and nephew had autograph books for the characters to sign and Tigger got creative in signing by using Aaron's head for a desk

and then Aaron reverted into his silliness and started his "poking" problem again, to which Tigger,(just like Lilo earlier that week) made it clear that poking WAS NOT okay. I really liked how the characters could get their needs met while still staying in character and being kind to overzealous children (aka Aaron)

Noah opted to "play it cool" with a high five, rather than the typical character hug

It was a nice way to spend our last meal together and two weeks later, the boys are STILL talking about the ice cream with sprinkles that grandpa got them.

I know they don't read this blog anymore, but a big Thank You to my brother and SIL who treated us to this special dinner anyway. We appreciate you including us.

Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mini Golfing on Vacation

On the second full day of our vacation (Tuesday), my brother's family had planned a trip to Gatorland so we decided to see what we could find to do around Orlando.

After being up all night with Noah running a high fever, I was wondering if we were even going to be leaving the "condor" (See yesterday's post).

Luckily, he woke up feeling much better so we decided to see if we could find a mini-golf place in the area that would be reasonably priced.

Usually we take the boys mini-golfing on Father's Day each year and Aaron isn't very interested in actually golfing. In addition, Steve is usually grumpy when he starts playing badly, so I wasn't sure how the activity would go.
We found one called Pirate's Cove. I had decided not to play since I figured Aaron would lose interest after awhile. In order to battle Steve's "score issue" we decided to not keep score at all. Instead, we would just celebrate if anyone got a hole in one.

So we got started. It was a fun course based on the story of Captain Kidd. There was a beautiful waterfall right in the middle and we got to both go over it and through it, getting a little wet each time, much to the boys' delight.

Even though Aaron did stay in the game pretty well, he did have his moments.

At one point, he realized it was easier to swipe at unsuspecting bugs than it was to hit a ball. Too funny!

Noah was the most excited as we were finishing our last hole and he saw a REAL LIVE LIZARD sitting on a post. To many of you, this would seem like a silly thing to be excited about, but to us Michiganders, this was an unusual sight.

Noah was sad that we couldn't put it in a box and bring it home, but I convinced him that it wouldn't be nice to take him away from his family.

It was a fun morning excursion and after a quick trip to a fast food restaurant for lunch (where Noah finally ate something) we were back to the condor for naps all around before a night on the town. (Disney downtown, that is)

Have a great weekend. Please come back on Monday and join in on my own personal meme, Weekend Top Five.

Animal Kingdom: Not So Regal

Note: This post was schedules to auto-post next week. But in honor of Courtney, who leaves for Orlando tonight, I want to share it early. Sorry for two posts in one just seemed important to get the word out.

Just in case you've been reading all of these vacation posts thinking,"Okay, so I get it already. You had a great time and you just want to keep bragging", then this will be the post for you.

Not everything about our vacation was hunky, dory. There were definitely some moments that were not what dreams were made of.

One of these was the day we went to Animal Kingdom.

I had been warned by MANY people before we went to not go to Animal Kingdom. I had been told that the layout was very challenging and that there wasn't as much to do there as other parks.

We didn't listen to the advice for several reasons:
A. The Lion King show looked really neat
B. My brother and SIL went last time and loved it
C. Noah wanted to ride the Yeti ride (Expedition Everest)
D. I really thought that it had to be great, just because it was part of Disney World
E. I thought the kids would have a blast in the "Big Boneyard"
F. The Kilimanjaro Safari was said to be amazing
G. I thought the River Rapids would be fun

Let's take these one at a time, shall we?

A. The Lion King Show really WAS neat...the only thing that lived up to the hype. Very cool show!

B. I think we ALL agreed that the experience of Walt Disney World 8 years ago without young children was very different than the one we had this time around

C. After seeing in a book we had about this ride, Noah was determined to go on it. The fastpasses for the ride were all gone by noon so in order to ride it, they would have to wait 95 minutes, which he and Steve did right after lunch. After the ride, he seemed prettyy excited, even though he said he definitely would NEVER go on it again because it was so scary when the Yeti jumped out at him.

We didn't know how bad it was until two days later in Magic Kingdom when Noah started crying before EVERY roller coaster, still freaked out over Everest. He was actually hyperventilating while we were in line for Splash Mountain.

Even after we
got home, he had nightmares for several nights, saying a Yeti was chasing him.

PLEASE USE CAUTION if you choose to take your child on this ride, especially if he is sensitive like my Noah.

D. Brand labeling is never a good thing.

E. Since we had about two hours to wander while Steve and Noah were waiting to go on the Yeti ride, Aaron and I went on a kiddie ride similar to Dumbo with my SIL and niece and nephew. That was fun but then we separated and I thought it was a perfect time to let Aaron play in the Boneyard.

It wasn't a digging place at all, but a big huge play area. It actually was very neat, as soon as Aaron lost me a few times and figured out his way back to find where I was. I actually would have let him stay much longer had I not been worried about him overheating or getting sunburned.

F. The Safari was the only thing we got a fastpass for all day. Thankfully we didn't have to wait before boarding and we all were able to sit together for the trek. There were quite a few animals that we were able to see and it was neat to see them in a more natural habitat than in some zoos we have been too.

The most memorable thing for me was a friendly giraffe that took to following our vehicle. It tailed us for quite awhile and I was as disappointed as the kids when we got too far ahead of it to see it anymore.

G. After waiting for the Yeti ride for almost two hours, we got to the line for the rapids ride (which fastpasses had again run out hours before) and it was an hour and a half wait again. At that point I turned to Noah and asked him, "Noah, do you want to wait for another cool ride as long as that last wait or do you want to go back to the condor and go swimming?" We were on the road fifteen minutes later, not even waiting to watch the parade that would begin in another fifteen minutes.

So, are you wondering if anything good came out the trip to Animal Kingdom?

The answer is yes.

I felt bad for Aaron being stuck in the stroller so I let him use some of his Disney Dollars to buy a water sprayer...$16 for a $3 water bottle, but he was so thrilled with it that it kept him amused for a very long time.

All of the kids enjoyed playing the many African drums

Yes, my hubby, the big kid loved it too!

Noah and Steve making rhythms together

I was also able to get a cute picture of the four cousins that will definitely be framed

The kids did actually get to visit with a couple of characters from The Jungle Book. They were the only autographs we got the whole week, due to either forgetting the books or the long lines to meet characters.

So yes, there were a few good points, but probably not enough to make me want to visit Animal Kingdom again. If you have a hopper pass and can pop in and visit the Lion King show, I suggest you do it, but I would not suggest wasting an entire day there if you can only do one park a day, like we could.

If you have had similar experiences with Animal Kingdom, I would love to hear it. My BIL and his family went to this park when their kids were little and had such a horrible time, they got their money back. That was several years ago and we had assumed that it couldn't possibly be like that.

As a matter of fact, while my SIL and I were relaxing in the condor's hot tub that night, waves of people came and went and all expressed similar stories of their experiences that day. Sometimes it's nice to know that you weren't alone when you feel things aren't what you had hoped.

I hope you are all enjoying these trips down memory lane. I am really writing this stuff down for my own sake so I will have a picture diary of our vacation for years to come. I appreciate you all coming along for the ride.

Have a great day!

The "Condor"

Are you thinking of a bird?

Well, guess again.

For some reason, Aaron heard "condor" each time we mentioned the condo that we were going to stay in during our vacation. At first, Noah was being kind of mean and trying to correct him each time he said it. After awhile though, we convinced him that it was actually cute, and we all started calling it "our condor".

The condor was quite nice. It is a condo resort about five miles from the Disney parks. Each condo is individually owned and we paid less for a two bedroom two bath condor than we did for three days of Disney passes.

The pool was great. The perfect depth (between three and three and half feet for the majority of it) and this was the first vacation where we could take both boys and let them swim around without being held. That was a HUGE milestone for us and made going to the pool much more fun than ever in the past. I am so thankful that the boys have several years of swimming lessons under their belts now.
Aaron spent most of the time jumping off the side of the pool into the water.

I wish I had a pictures of him trying to "catch" his three year old cousin. It was funny that they both believed he could do it, but not so funny when they bonked...his head, her nose.

ON our last visit to a hotel pool (I don't even remember when) Noah had lost his goggles and he hadn't gone swimming since then. I was worried because he REFUSED to go into the water last summer without them.

I got some diving rings to bring and by the second day, he was going under and getting them without any complaint. I am hoping that means we ware finally over that hurdle for swimming lessons this year.

After that, he was content to swim all over the place. I even found him treading water over his head while he was playing ball with Steve and my FIL.

Our condor also had a playground. The playground was actually two blocks away from our condor, so we only visited it twice, but the kids still had a good time.

The sand box around the playground was really soft fine sand that my SIL and I both wished we could bring back with us.

Here is Noah with his cousin.

The playground also had a big castle to run around and climb up

and teeter totters that we banned the boys from after the first visit, since they were so wobbly.

Noah was fascinated by some of the flora around our condor since we didn't have those kind of plants in Michigan.

I never did get a picture of the palm trees :(

After playing in the heat, we were all ready to head back to the condor...

My brother and SIL carried their two oldest

and Noah took over the duty of pushing his youngest cousin in the stroller, with Aaron "helping" nearby .

I do recommend the Windsor Hills Resort if you are taking a family trip. The price was extremely reasonable and we had so much more room than if we had gotten a regular hotel. If you go to the website and plug in the dates you will be there, you will receive emails back from all of the people whose condos are available that week. Then, you can pick the one you want to use. I think I had at least 30 emails to pick from.

The boys' bedroom was designed in a Disney theme and there was a washer and dryer in the unit, as well as utensils, cleaning supplies, and pretty much everything else we needed, including an extra stroller (since we didn't think we would need two from home, but we did).

I can't believe the week is done and I have only posted two events of our vacation.

Vacation Posts still to come...
MAJOR battle with the in-laws one morning
The Disney park that we will NEVER return to
Major country event that I missed capturing on film
All day park marathon
Silly and embarrassing pictures

Personal thoughts about vacation in general and how it can affect one's psyche

Have a great Thursday.