Sunday, November 27, 2011

School Pics

These aren't my favorite pics of the kids (what's up with Grace's smile?), but they're my kids, and they're always cute.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Most kids aren't into Epcot. It's kind of the Carousel of Progress of the four Disney parks. It's old. It's dated. They show Captain EO (yes, the 1980s Michael Jackson flic) like it's a headliner. But, there's a charm to Epcot too.

Grant loves Epcot. He likes it because he can ride a few of the big rides and because Mulan lives there. Last year, Grace was a tad bit shy when we stumbled upon Mulan while touring "China," so Grant got all the love, including a big kiss right on the forehead. His whole goal in going back to Disney was to meet back up with Mulan. As fate would have it, our little Miss Grace is now a social butterfly (she met Santa today at the mall and was all smiles--very different from year #1). She ran to Mulan, hugged her, talked to her and Grant had to play second fiddle. Mulan was exceptionally gracious; she asked the kids to wait for her, and then, she spent a very long time with just with them down at the pond. I always knew I liked that Mulan girl; there's nothing foo-foo about her.

She asked Grant if she could give him another kiss, but he wasn't fooled. He knew he wasn't the favorite any longer, so he hid behind our legs, only later to break down into sobs that he had missed his big chance.

Here are some Epcot pics.

Grace riding Test Track, which she loved. She wasn't too sure about Soarin'.

The Mulan Experience--Grace looks so excited!

Having Random Fun

Monday, November 14, 2011

Random Pictures

Here are some random pictures from our relaxation days at Disney. Most people like to head to the parks non-stop with their young children. This is what Bret and I call the anti-vacation. So, we plan lots of swimming, wandering, eating days into the mix. It's how we stay sane.

Here are some pics from those lazy days.

We wandered around Downtown Disney (we skipped T-Rex this year in favor of the cheaper [and better] Earl of Sandwich). The Lego store was the biggest hit.

This time down we rented a four bedroom house, five minutes from Disney, with a private pool. We've stayed on Disney property, at a great condo complex, and now a house. Again, we proved to ourselves that we'd rather be off property than on, and it's a toss up between the house and the condo... Even Papoo, got into the relaxation action.

We headed out to dinner at Ohana, one of Disney's best restaurants. It did not disappoint. In fact, this trip accounted for some of the best food we have ever eaten on a vacation. Thank you, Trip Advisor! Grant ate his weight in shrimp, chicken and steak, and Grace drank a lot of chocolate milk, but the one thing they both agreed upon: coconut races with brooms are the best!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cocoa Beach

Well, we're back from vacation, but for our own sake, here's a recap of the remaining days.

To get away from Orlando for a bit, we headed about an hour away to Cocoa Beach. The day started out cold, so I didn't bother to bring any swimsuits or sand toys (silly, Mommy), as I expected some light walking (dare I say: just a drive?) along the coast. It ended up being a bit warmer than expected, and the kids had a blast despite the fact they were in street clothes, didn't have a shovel... or for that matter--a towel. They didn't even complain as they drove in their underpants, nearly naked, to the local Walmart for some new digs.

Next time, I'll be prepared.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Magic Kingdom

Ah, Disney. You lure us in with your promises of childlike wonder and tales of pirates, princesses, and talking animals. But when we get here, it's the tattoos, screaming toddlers, and "we flew all the way from (insert home country here) to see 1950's caricatures of our homeland!" that keeps us interested. Well, at least that's what keeps ME interested.

Today was a great day at the Magic Kingdom, and the two big stories were that Grace was tall enough to ride Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain, while Grant was able to ride Space Mountain.

I thought Space Mountain might do Grant in, but he LOVED it. LOVED. IT. We ended up riding it twice, and he declared it his new favorite ride. Overall we had a wonderful day, with cool weather, relatively slim crowds, and two great kids who lasted the whole day without melting down. Who could ask for more?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Vacation with the Gators

Yes, we're on vacation with the inlaws. But seriously...

We arrived in Orlando Friday afternoon and by Saturday morning, we were hanging out at Gatorland.

I'll be honest, my expectations were low. I envisioned a handful of meager alligators staring glumly at me from behind Plexiglass, but the reality was much different. This place had gators everywhere, and they were huge.

The highlight of Gatorland was Grant and Grace getting their picture taken holding an albino Burmese python. I was pretty shocked that they held the snake without fear.

Later in the day they visited the aviary, and that actually did terrify Grant. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, handled it with Hitchcockian aplomb. Should be a good week.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

End of Month... in Pictures

We're sorry. We know there are only two (maybe three) readers out there, but this blog--while in some ways intended for a wider audience--is a labor of love for our own family, a family journal of sorts for our kids. We use it often, and if not for you (at least for ourselves), we are sorry that we've been so very noticeably absent. But with Disney on the horizon (T minus two days and counting), we'll have tons of pictures coming your way!

For now, we'll play catch up for the month of October; it was a fabulous month!

Dunes and Wedding Fun
In early October, we headed up to a wedding in southern Michigan. Pre-wedding, we headed to Indiana Dunes for some fun. The kids loved it, and it made me sad that we hadn't been there before! The wedding was gorgeous, and Grant had the time of his life dancing the night away. I don't have a pic from the wedding itself, but I don't need one to remember: I will never forget my baby asking girls to dance (his idea... not mine) and break dancing! To die for! We also headed to a local pumpkin patch on the way home (Mommy's idea of fun), looked at some homes in Beverly Shores (Daddy's idea of fun), and stopped at Ivanhoe's (Grant's idea of fun).

Grant's field trip to the apple orchard

Smurfs 3D at the dollar movies
(We just saw Puss-N-Boots with cousin Brakston, and after both of these movies, I've got an issue with today's PG movies, but that's a rant for another day.)

Hung out with Grant's birth mom and family... always so very special

Played lots and lots (and LOTS) outside
Grant and I have been watching a lot of Survivorman, and we're hooked. Grant spent three hours building fall traps and a lean-to. It was pretty amazing for a four-year-old.

Lots of rest
(Daddy has been on the road A LOT, so Sunday afternoon naps have become a Wei Wei and Daddy special.)

Carving time
Grace--always the surgeon--was eager to pull out the guts, to cut open its skin, and to pronounce it done.

Halloween 2011

Grant was Robin Hood; Grace was Minnie Mouse. Too cute! Thankfully, between school parties, two parties at the library and a local church's harvest party, the kids got LOTS of use out of their costumes. And this year, our little confident Wei Wei was all about the trick-or-treating.

Okay, next post: sunny Florida.