Monday, May 26, 2014

Our Epic Florida Trip: Day 19- Home!

Wow...after 19 days of Florida (and two months of trying to finish all of these posting) this was finally the last day!  We didn't actually spend much time in Florida on this day though...we were up before dawn and Dad had us to the airport bright and early.  We were actually back at the airport in New Hampshire around 9:30a.m.!!  Honestly I don't remember much about our flight so I guess it must have gone pretty smoothly!:)  I do remember thinking how much easier it is to travel with another adult (my husband)!  This picture was Liam at the airport in New Hampshire...just waiting to collect our luggage.  Oh yes, I do remember now how very cold it was that day!:)
Joe's dad picked us up from the airport, we drove back to their house, grabbed some food, picked up our dog, and then drove right now (after being away so long we were ready to be home).  Until we got home, then I had second thoughts!  Because from the moment we walked through the door we knew something wasn't right.  It was the smell...that awful smell.  For a brief moment we thought, we hoped, that maybe we had just left some trash out.  But it became obvious quickly that it was much more than that.  Turns out that at some point while we were away (some point over the previous 19 days) our refrigerator stopped working. And everything inside the fridge and freezer started rotting.  There was nasty, rotting juice flowing from the defrosted freezer all through the fridge.  I believe it was some sort of combination of thawed blueberries and fish mixed in with some other nastiness.  Joe dealt with the bulk of the biohazard while I kept the children upstairs and then eventually took them out to dinner.  It was not the homecoming that we were hoping for! Later that night we scrubbed the fridge and freezer and tried everything we could think of to get rid of the smell and save the fridge, but we could still see the nasty freezer "juice" in little air holes in the freezer that we couldn't get into to clean.  It was pretty clear that there was no saving it.  So the next day we got rid of it, bought a new one, and our house went back to smelling like normal.  Replacing our fridge and all of the food in it was an expense we weren't planning for but it is what it is and I am just thankful that this didn't happen in the middle of the summer (because then the smell might have seriously damaged and contaminated the entire house)!  
So, we made it through our epic Florida trip!  It is one that we will never forget!  A huge thank you goes out to all of our ministry supporters who gave in order that our whole family could be a part of the Cru Big Break conference our first week there!  And another huge thank you goes out once again to my parents who gave of their time and energy and finances to make it an incredible vacation for us and the kids!!  We couldn't have done it without any of you!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Our Epic Florida Trip: Day 18- Animal Kingdom

Our last real day in Florida was spent at Animal Kingdom.  We were there a couple of years ago when we were in Florida for some meetings.  I have to admit that I wasn't terribly impressed the last time.  I'm not sure why...everybody talks so highly of this particular theme park that maybe my expectations were too high.  But we decided to try again and I am so glad we did!  In fact this ended up being my favorite park of the trip!

 I will admit that it did start off a little shaky though.  You see, I planned very well what I wanted to use our Fast Pass tickets on so as soon as we entered the park I went right away to get our Fast Passes for the whole family.  The rest of the family kept going through the park and we made plans that I would call my mom's phone as soon as I was done to find out where to meet them.  I got our passes and everything was going smoothly until I reached into my pocket and realized that my phone was actually in the diaper bag which was in the stroller with my family!  I started to look for them for a few minutes, panicked a bit because I realized that there was pretty much no way I was going to find them in time to use our Fast Passes for the biggest ride of the day and went back to change our Fast Pass time.  Then I headed back into the throngs of people to search again.  I seriously thought that I might be looking for them for hours!  I couldn't call them from another phone because, to be honest, I don't have my mom's number memorized.  And I didn't think it would be worth it to go back to where they left me because I wasn't sure they would really remember where that was.  So, I searched and scanned the crowds and said a little prayer.  And then I came to a cross roads...I could take the path to the "Tree of Life" or the path to "Asia" or the path to "Dinosaur Land."  They all lead to totally different parts of the park and I took a chance that I knew my Eli well enough to know where he would insist that they go first and sure enough I found them a couple of minutes later in Dinosaur Land!  I can't even tell you how relieved I was when I spotted them!
So we got off to a shaky start, but it was pretty smooth sailing from then on!

AK2 (1 of 1) AK1 (1 of 1) AK3 (1 of 1) 
The kids loved strolling around and seeing all of the animals...tigers and hippos, bats, birds and gorillas! AK4 (1 of 1) AK9 (1 of 1) AK10 (1 of 1) AK5 (1 of 1) 
And we even went back and tried the "Bugs Life" show at the Tree of Life. We went to this show a few years ago with our friends and it pretty much terrorized all of the children in our group until one by one they left the show. It's actually a very cool 3D show that uses extra special affects (like spraying water, blowing air in your face, poking you in the back, turning off the lights, etc...) to make the show even more realistic. Very cool, but very scary for little ones! Eli didn't make it...Joe ended up leaving with him half way through, but Lily and the rest of us loved it! AK6 (1 of 1) And I also loved these drums that they had out to play in "Africa." So fun. How cool would it be to have these in your house? AK7 (1 of 1) AK8 (1 of 1) AK11 (1 of 1) And of course one of the favorite parts of the day for everybody was the African Safari Ride. It really is pretty awesome to get so close to many of these animals! AK12 (1 of 1) And no, I didn't have a zoom lens on my camera...the giraffes really are that close with no fence or anything in between us. That was my favorite...I love giraffes! AK13 (1 of 1) AK14 (1 of 1) AK15 (1 of 1) AK16 (1 of 1) 
And this was after lunch...the kids actually asked to have their picture taken with this cat!:) AK17 (1 of 1) 
And Joe got this great picture of us with my parents (Liam was in the stroller trying to get a nap in...though it didn't take)! And then we headed back to Dino Land so we could let the kids run and slide and play... AK18 (1 of 1) AK19 (1 of 1) AK20 (1 of 1) AK21 (1 of 1) 
And while we did that my parents strolled Liam around trying to get him to sleep...which clearly didn't work!:) And then we took in the Finding Nemo musical show...which was also one of my favorites of the day. What an incredible show...and because we had Fast Passes we were right up front in the "bubble zone" and the kids loved the bubbles pouring down from the ceiling at the end! Really the only part of the day that was really crazy (except for loosing my family in the beginning) was trying to see the Jammin' Jungle Parade after the Nemo show. The show got out right at the same time the parade started and it was just crazy. We couldn't get around the parade really to try and get a good view or to leave either...we sort of got trapped. The kids still enjoyed it, but it was a little crazy. But then our last big ride of the day was the Kali River Rapids. Both Lily and Eli were big enough to go on this one, but since Liam was not Joe and I took turns staying back with him. First Joe and my parents and the kids went (we had Fast Passes)and then we used our "rider swap" option and as soon as they were done the kids and I got to go right away again without having to stand in the line all over was pretty sweet! The kids LOVED this ride so it was pretty great that they got to do it twice. We were smart in saving it for the end because Lily was in one of the seats that got soaked both times (I was as well my go around) so we were all pretty wet by the end! This was a pretty fun day and though I had my doubts about cramming in one more big theme park I'm so glad that we was a great way to end our vacation!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Our Epic Florida Trip: Day 17- Family

I think that this was actually our most laid back day!  We drove about an hour and a half down to my Aunt Karen and Uncle Craig's house (Uncle Craig is my dad's older brother).  It has been quite a while since we have seem them and I believe that it was their first time meeting Eli and Liam.  And even better was that their children (my cousins Jenny and CJ) were there with their families too!  It was our very first time meeting each other's children in person!  Uncle Dave and cousin Matt joined us too.  It was really a wonderful, relaxing afternoon catching up with family, eating good food, and watching the kids swim in the pool and play!  My cousin Jennifer put together some fun games for the kids to play (complete with prizes) and the kids had a fantastic time...I was really amazed at how quickly and easily they all got along!  What a fun we just need to convince everybody to come to Maine for the next visit!:)

Family (1 of 1) My parents and Liam. I have no idea what they were doing or looking at...but it was one of the very few pictures I took that day (I'm not sure why...I guess I was too relaxed)! Family2 (1 of 1) But we did get this great picture of all of us together!  From the left is my Uncle Dave, My dad, me, Eli, Joe, Lily, Emily (my cousin Jennifer's daughter), my mom , Liam, Aunt Karen, Jacob (Jennifer's son), Bruce (Jennifer's husband), Gram (Aunt Karen's mom), Jennifer, Karry (my cousin CJ's wife), CJ, Brecken (CJ's daughter) and my Uncle Craig.  Thanks to my cousin Matt for being willing to brave my camera and take the picture for us!Cousins And Aunt Karen did get these pictures of me with my cousin CJ and his little girl. Cousins2 And me and my cousin Jennifer!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our Epic Florida Trip: Day 16- The Gators and a Princess

This was another much anticipated day, but for different reasons for each of the kids.
Eli had been looking forward to this day for about a year because we got to go to Gatorland!!!  Alligators are his very favorite animal and he's crazy about them.  From the moment we landed in Florida he was on the lookout for alligators!  And if you love alligators Gatorland is the place to be!  There were alligators everywhere and Eli loved every single minute of it...watching the gators, walking the boardwalk, the gator jumping show, the gator wrestling show, riding the train and if that wasn't enough Eli got to sit on a real live alligator!!

Gator (1 of 1) Gator2 (1 of 1) So many alligators! Gator3 (1 of 1) Gator4 (1 of 1) This bird was hilarious...he so badly wanted the piece of hot dog right near the alligator but he was obviously pretty scared! Gator5 (1 of 1) This big guy didn't even realize that the meat had landed on his back! Gator6 (1 of 1) 
The alligator train!
Gator7 (1 of 1) Gator8 (1 of 1) Gator9 (1 of 1) Gator10 (1 of 1) Gator11 (1 of 1) Gator12 (1 of 1)
That's a REAL alligator (but don't worry too's mouth was tapped shut)! Gator13 (1 of 1) 
You can't tell from these pictures, but he was super excited! Gator14 (1 of 1) Gator15 (1 of 1)

So Lily wasn't as excited about Gatorland as Eli was (in fact it made her a bit nervous).  She had the chance to sit on an alligator too, but you'll notice in the above photos that Bubba took her place!:)  But this day was not a loss for her at all because after the morning spent at Gatorland the boys went back to the condo to rest (and play with the awesome remote control cars that Grammie bought) and Grammy and I took Lily to the Bippity Boppity Boutique!!
If you have a little girl who likes princesses and find yourself with an hour or two to spare in Orlando you must do this!  At the Bippity Boppity Boutique each girl is assigned a "Fairy Godmother" to turn them into a princess.  Lily happened to get a fantastic Fairy Godmother who played the part perfectly.

Princess (1 of 1) Here she is just getting started on her hair. Princess2 (1 of 1) Princess shoes! Princess3 (1 of 1) And if one Fairy Godmother wasn't enough she had a second come and do her nails!:) Princess4 (1 of 1)
"Jellyfish Gel" for her hair!
 Princess5 (1 of 1) Princess6 (1 of 1)
Her Fairy Godmother would only address Lily as "Princess or Princess Lily" and talked about her life in the castle, about the other princesses, how she was really hundreds of years old, etc...she literally never broke
 Princess7 (1 of 1)
Getting her tiara! Princess8 (1 of 1) Makeup too (she even got to pick all the colors herself)! Princess9 (1 of 1) Princess10 (1 of 1)
Here she is getting her "magic fairy dust"...the glitter is come from the wand and Grammy and I might have gotten some "magic fairy dust" in our hair too!:) Princess11 (1 of 1)
She's a princess!
 They gave her the sash and face gems, the dress is from Halloween a couple of years ago, and the jewelry was from my mom (it was her great grandmothers, I believe)! Princess12 (1 of 1)
She may have looked pretty serious throughout, but by the end she was all smiles! Princess13 (1 of 1)
And then she got to see herself!
 Princess14 (1 of 1) Princess15 (1 of 1) Princess16 (1 of 1) Princess17 (1 of 1)
Look at all that magic fairy dust!
 Princess18 (1 of 1)
My sweet princess!
 Princess19 (1 of 1) Princess20 (1 of 1) Princess21 (1 of 1) Princess22 (1 of 1) Princess23 (1 of 1)
She even got to pose with Olaf!
 Princess25 (1 of 1) Princess26 (1 of 1) Princess24 (1 of 1)
It was the perfect outing for my girl...and a pretty perfect day overall!