Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When in Florida, Do Disney - FL Vacation Part 4

And for two days we did Disney.

Now if you have ever been to Disney World you know that two days is not enough time to visit the entire thing (I'm not sure two weeks is either), but we tried. We stayed at a Disney resort and for two days we had park hopper passes. Now with young children you can skip over things that they won't see (like fireworks shows) and, since they don't sleep in anyway, you can get to the parks early. But with young children you do have to take some time out/nap time during the middle of the day.

We tried to use these to our advantage and arrived just after the parks opened the first day. The first park we went to was MGM Studios. This is a great park to go if your children want to meet the Characters. My daughter just was beyond herself when she met Mickey. Here she is waiting in line getting her pen and autograph book ready.

After lunch at the Studios we went back to the Resort to rest, which didn't last as long as we had hoped, and then went to the pool for a quick swim.

Redressed and ready to go we headed for the bus station to catch the next bus to Animal Kingdom. Of course it was just driving away as we got there, so when the Epcot bus arrived we decided that we would just go there. If we were smart we would have called for dinner reservations right then, but unfortunately we didn't.

Epcot was fun. We got strollers for each kid and started towards the Nemo ride. Along the way the three year old fell fast asleep so we thought we might visit the world showcase first. When we got to France they had a Craft for Kids sponsored by Sharpie. It was paper masks that the kids decorated with the new sharpie color markers. Now I don't know about you, but sharpies are the last markers I will buy for my child. Okay, maybe when she is 17 and needs them for a school project. But seriously. My daughter actually said, "But mommy you told me that I can't use those markers." And I did, so I had to amend it to just this once. Here is her mask:

Each country had a little dangle that you could add to your mask, things that represented that country. We had fun until we couldn't find a sit down restaurant that we could get a table. I wanted Japanese food, but we should have stayed in Morocco like my friend suggested. Finally in China we found a place that had seating and food the kids would eat. Due to time we were rushing out as the fireworks started and headed to the Monorail for the Magic Kingdom.

We arrived at the Kingdom just in time for the fireworks over the castle, but the children decided they wanted only to ride rides. There were no waits in Adventureland so in less then an hour we rode Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, and Aladdin's Carpet ride (many times). On the way back to the hotel both kids passed out. Here's mine:

Day two there was no sleeping in. We got back to the Magic Kingdom for it's early opening for resort guest. This time we headed straight for the Haunted Mansion. My daughter was scared at first, but I've never gone to Disney and not ridden it. I told her it was just pretend and as long as I held her hand she seem to enjoy it. After the ride was over, she asked if we were going back to the hotel. I said no and asked why. She said she didn't want a ghost to follow us home, but if we were going to the hotel that would be okay. LOL

After that we headed for Fantasyland before it got too crowded. This is where you find my daughters now favorite ride, Dumbo. I can't believe I stood in line for 45 minutes in the Florida heat in August to ride it, but she loved it and that made it so worth it in the end.

After all the rides in Fantasyland and some ice cream on Main Street we headed home. What a great time. I won't forget my daughters first time at Disney.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Visiting my Brother - Florida Vacation Part 3

Yesterday's photo of the kitten Wow, Wow, Wubbs was taken while we were staying with my brother. Wubbs is named after Wow! Wow! Wubbzy on Nickelodeon. The last time we visited it was my daughters favorite show and her aunt remembered. My daughter loves her Aunt and Uncle, but what makes the visit even better is their five cats. She can spend all day playing just with them. Here are a few more:

While in Florida we spent about a third of our time with them. They live in New Port Richey, which is not a beach town, so we spent the time going to the city pool which is huge and a lot of fun, shopping with my sister in law, and playing Monster Mini Golf.

I think Monster Mini Golf may have been a little much for her. It was the her first time playing and she tried really hard. She actually did really well until all the black light lite monsters started to move and make noise around her. We did about half the course before she wanted to go. Wanted to go until we found the Duck Dance and Stomp machine. Of this she just couldn't get enough, but it was worth the quarters.

In the end we ended up with so many tickets that she got two handfuls of small plastic toys. It ended up being a great thing to do on a rainy day. And when we got back to my brothers place she started to play with the cats again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Day at the Beaches - Florida Vacation Part 2

Yes. I said Beaches, with an s. Well what else do you do when your on Vacation on the coast in Florida? A day at the beach of course. Or if you me, you make sure to get to two beaches in one day.
I had actually hoped to spend as much time on the beach as I could, so the second day of my visit we headed for Dunedin's Honeymoon Island State Park. The girls seemed to love it, at first. They didn't enjoy the sand on their fruit. My daughter really didn't like the seaweed that lined the edge of the water or the rocks that you had to walk past to get out to the sandy, shallow sand bars. It was also her first experience, at four, of waves. I said waves, but they were so small that I didn't even think of warning her about them. So small, in fact, they barely "crashed" as they rolled onto the shore, but when you are only three feet tall and trying to catch small fish in a net out on the sand bar, they can seem quit large as the water around you seems to push your little body around. Especially when your not expecting them. Opps.

Eventually the girls decided that the shore was a large sandbox and that building, mixing, and digging was exactly what they wanted to do. Ah, what a lovely day at the beach. It really was great till we decided to leave and we had sandy, tired, winy, and wet toddlers. "How quick can we get back to your home?" I asked my friend.

After a late afternoon nap and dinner we headed for Sunset Beach for Tarpon Spring's Music on the Beach. The night we attended the Bayou Boys played a mix of Country, American, and Rockabilly covers. Oh so, so Florida.

It was about a mile walk with the little ones in strollers and the strollers loaded down with chairs, snacks, beach toys, and the all important wine. The evening was fun, full of watching the girls play in the sand as the sunset with a background of live music and getting to know my friends neighbors. A relaxing and fun evening.

This was my last big day at the beach during my vacation because after this my daughter decided that the beach just wasn't for her. I can't say I was a big beach person while I was living in Florida, but when you only have a week or two to visit it a year, you want to make the most of it, and go as much as possible. Granted, I've ever been big on sand, partly because it can get in places it shouldn't and irritate, but I was disappointed that my daughter was more interested in spending time at a pool then the beach. But that is a story for another day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dinner and a Stroll in Tarpon Springs, FL

In August I packed my bags once again and headed to visit family and friends in Tampa Bay Florida. I love visiting whenever I can because it is a little bit like going home. My brother still lives in New Port Richey and I have friends in Tarpon Springs and St. Petersburg. Every time I go back something has changed, but I can still count on my friends and family to welcome me and for a great time.
I can also count on The Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs to not have changed too much. I know, it is a tourist trap-ish kind of place. But it is also one of the best places in the US to get wonderful Greek food. Yummy.
The first night of my visit my friend and I took our daughters to Hella's. On the way we were talking about food and the foods that other friends won't eat or even try. I made the mistake of saying I'd try just about anything. So of course my friend called me on it and challenged me to try some pickled octopus.

Now for me, octopus is one of those foods that look too much like the animal even in prepared form. I know it's a bit silly, but I was not looking forward to this challenge. I was looking forward to the saganaki, skordalia, baklava, and a good open face gyro.
To fulfill my challenge we started off with the cold plate that included octopus, shrimp, skordalia, taramosalata, tzatziki, olives, peppers & feta cheese. Everything was good. The octopus wasn't so good I would eat it all the time. It was pickled and I'm really not a big fan of pickled anything except dill pickles.

After that we got the sapanaki, or flaming cheese, just for the fun of it (something you can do on vactaion). OPA!!!!!!!

The kids love the show much more then the cheese.
By the time we finished the appetizers and half our gyros we were full so we took our extras and headed for their bakery to bring some baklava and galaktoburiko home.
After dinner we walk for a bit and stopped in the wonderful little soap shop, Lori's Soaps. They sold hand made olive oil soaps and some of them had a sponge added right into them. What a great idea. I only got two, but now that I'm home I wish I had more.
Here are some photos I took with my point and shoot during our stroll after dinner:

To see more photos of the Sponge Docks visit my last post: Wordless Wed.: The Sponge Docks

more great quotes

Don't bother about being modern. Unfortunately it is the one thing that, whatever you do, you cannot avoid.
- Salvador Dali

Living is more a question of what one spends than what one makes.
-Marcel Duchamp