Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Vacation of Their Lives: Maia Edition

Maia thought learning about the innovative gardening techniques at Epcot was really cool!
Humor this English-degree holder for a moment and let's play the Antonym Game. We'll do it in "I say/You say" format.  You know, I say "black." And then you say "white."  I say "rich." What's that? Did you say "poor?" Excellent! I say "wet." You say..."dry!" Awesome. Now, I say "Adrenaline junkie!" What do you say? Any idea? None? Then you don't know my daughter, Maia.

Well, despite the fact that Maia would rather be strung up by her toenailss than go on any ride that moves faster that your average garden slug, she managed to have a great time on our trip. Sometimes, we used her squeamishness to our advantage and had her babysit a less-courageous sibling or two while we went on some rides. She never minds stepping up to help her parents and we appreciate that about her.

Maia welcomed the coolness of the fountain's mist during the heat of the day.

It must be said that while Maia hates movement, she is all about the scare factor. She isn't intimidated by ghosts or spooky stuff. She liked The Haunted Mansion ride at Magic Kingdom!
 Maia happily rode the Buzz Lightyear ride countless times. We rode is as a family a couple of times, but later on when Michael and I wanted to move on to something more adventurous, Maia happily led her siblings back to Buzz to pass the time.
My beautiful girl.
 Even though I get frustrated sometimes because she won't try a ride, I recognize how lucky I am that my teenager is content to stay with her younger siblings and parents and that she genuinely enjoys the family friendly ride. Exhibit A:

The big kids enjoying a magic carpet ride.
 My Maia was my princess lover.With Disney princesses, Teense and Kenna could have taken or left them, but when Maia was young she loved them with her whole heart. When she finally did start to outgrow them, she segued flawlessly from princess adoration to fairy worship. I know she has outgrown her fairy obsession, but when I heard that Tinkerbell and her friends were available to meet and greet, I had to make it happen for my girl. Going into the fairy world was quite cute! We all shrunk down to their size and then got to meet Tink and Rosetta. When my kids introduced themselves as Maia, Mason, Marlee and Mackenna, Tinkerbell didn't miss a beat. She piped up, "Well, I'm Minkerbell!" Kenna corrected her and Tinkerbell pouted a little bit while she explained that she wanted her name to start with an "M" so she could fit in with them. The kids agreed!
Maia, Mackenna, Minkerbell, Marlee and Mason

 Maia really liked the Harry Potter ride at Universal. I was kind of worried but she loved it. It was one of her favorites! Maia, like me, chose a chocolate frog as her souvenir from Honeydukes. Sadly, I didn't get photos of those.
At Animal Kingdom, Maia opted to get her face painted like a Moroccan Princess.
 With her souvenir money, Maia bought a velvet mad hatter hat, a wizard wand (Fleur Delacour's), a Mickey Mouse t-shirt and a Tinkerbell Minkerbell t-shirt. She wears those shirts all the time!
Maia resists getting picked up by The Claw.
 While in the Seuss section of Universal Studios, we stumbled upon a shop named after Gertrude McFuzz. Last year, Maia was Gertrude in her school's production of Seussical the Musical so we thought it was fun to see her shop!
Maia outside the Gertrude McFuzz shop.
I have to say, it sure is nice to take this teen on a family trip. With her help, it does seem more like a vacation!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Vacation of Their Lives: Mason Edition

We saved our money for years. We drove almost a thousand miles to get to Orlando. We bought passes to Disney and Universal Studios theme parks. And what did my son want to do the whole time we were in sunny Florida? Chase lizards.

My boy has a long-established love of all things reptilian and amphibian. He could hardly contain his glee at the sight of so many little lizards scurrying this way and that across the pavement and sidewalks of Orlando. He made it his mission to catch one of the speedy critters. It took a couple of days, but by Wednesday he had succeeded. Many people will remember their time in "Africa" in Animal Kingdom by the elephants, rhinos, lions and giraffes they saw. Not my boy. He'll always remember it as where he finally caught one of those elusive, lightning-fast Florida lizards.

That is not to say that Mason didn't enjoy the safari ride; he did. He loved seeing the amazing African wildlife so closely. What he didn't love was his mother making him turn in the opposite direction so she could get a picture of him with the wildlife in the background. This is his seriously-mom-you're-making-me-look-away-from-the-cool-stuff-to-take-this-stupid-picture face.

Mason was a little leery of many rides. I blame the warning posters at the beginning of each ride. They list so many conditions under which you should abstain from riding that it is a little intimidating. Mason was easily intimidated--until Teense would get off a ride jumping up and down about how cool it was--then he'd want to try it so badly that he'd swallow his fear and give it a go. He was always glad he did.

I had two catch phrases for him. The first was "Trust your mother." After serious reluctance to ride Soarin', he ended up giggling on the ride the whole time, pronouncing it his favorite thing in life and begging to go on it again. I annoyingly brought this up at later times when he was reluctant to try something I thought he'd enjoy. I don't mean to brag, but I was always right.

The second thing I kept repeating to him was, "I have news for you, son..." This came about because he'd make these huge blanket statements that weren't even true. "I hate roller coasters," he'd proclaim, "but I like the Rock 'N Roller Coaster." Seriously? So, I adopted my "I have news for you, son...if you like the Rock 'N Roller Coaster, you like roller coasters." He still doesn't believe me.

I realize now how few pictures I got of Mason alone. Here he is in line for Star Tours:

This boy loves to make people laugh. Here he is hamming it up as one of the aliens from Toy Story:
You'd be surprised at how many photos of him have his mouth hanging open like this:

What a bunch of goofs!

Mason is our biggest Harry Potter fan. I was so excited that we got to take him to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. He loved the main HP ride and got to ride it 5 times. He was thrilled to purchase himself a wand; that was his one goal of our whole trip and he'd been saving towards it for years (naturally, he had more than enough money since he'd saved so long). He drank more than his share of cold butter beer. I loved seeing my boy in this world that makes him so happy!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Vacation of Their Lives: Teensy Edition

Shocker of all shockers: my Teense is the dare devil in our family. While she does experience fear as an emotion, it does not cripple her. Instead, it annoys the heck out of her that she should feel this "weak" emotion. That annoyance spurs her on to gain victory over her fear by trying whatever it is that is making her nervous. And she ends up loving what once made her quake.

At Hollywood Studios, Teensy rode the Rock N' Roller Coaster twice. The first time, she was the only child who would ride it. As was the pattern for much of the trip, after she rode and loved it, she talked Mason into joining her for another go. Here are the three of us on her favorite ride:

On our trip,Tuesday was our Magic Kingdom day. It was also Teensy's 8th birthday. We started the day with some present opening, where she got some pajamas for her Julie doll that match some of her own pj's. She was thrilled!

At Magic Kindgom, she got to wear a button that announced her big day and received lots of wishes from various Disney employees all day. The climax of her birthday was eating dinner with Mickey and the gang, her big birthday request.

At Animal Kingdom, Teensy chose to have her face painted like a tiger. She was most excited when she found a large likeness to her new self.

At The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Teense was chosen for a special experience when we went into Ollivander's wand shop. She had to "test" different wands until she found a wand that chose her as its wizard. Then, she chose to purchase said wand for $30 upon exiting the shop. For a girl who professes not to like Harry Potter, she sure was happy to pay for that overpriced souvenir. Of course, it had just created magic in the shop--we'd all seen it with our very own eyes!

Ah, my Teensy Tiny girl. She loved everything this vacation offered: fast rides, slow rides, light shows, daily ice cream treats, and time with her daddy and the rest of her family.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Vacation of Their Lives: Kenna Edition

Last fall, to celebrate my Michael finishing his Master's program, we took a rare family vacation to Orlando. It has been six months, but I still cannot emotionally handle that the trip has not been chronicled. I hope to spare you a day-by-day play-by-play but still preserve the memories of that magical trip.

Kenna, we learned, has her feet firmly planted in the "chicken" camp when it comes to amusement park rides. Yes, she is young. But she is also ridiculously chicken. She didn't like any ride that had any significant motion or any hint of something that might give the mere suggestion of an adrenaline rush. Little movement. No scariness. She was terrified of the troll ride in Norway at Epcot, but loved the viking souvenirs in the shop at the end.

he wouldn't even consider getting on the "easy" side of the Mission Space simulator ride because of the warning speech they gave. To my knowledge, she was neither pregnant nor epileptic but she made quite a scene about not getting on that ride. Imagine our surprise when, later in the week, she insisted that we ride Star Tours (also a simulator) no less than 5 times and proclaimed it her favorite ride of the whole trip. I think her love of the ride is because the first time we rode it, her picture was flashed on the screen as the rebel our space ship was trying to safely deliver to another part of the galaxy.

In a superbly shameful act of parenting, I "boosted" Mackenna's height by 1/2 inch (by demanding that she wear a certain pair of shoes and by strategically placing a french braid on top of her head) to get her (force her) on The Forbidden Journey ride at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. She screamed in terror the whole time. Why it was so important to me that we all ride this ride together I don't know--especially considering that only 4 people can go in the thingy together at the same time anyway! Don't worry too much, the bad mommy bought her a turkey leg for lunch (one of her favorite things in life) and a lollipop the size of her head for dessert.

Mackenna chose to spend her souvenir money on a baby panda stuffed animal she named Snowball, a light saber key chain (because she loved that stinkin' ride so much) and a Voldemort wand (?).

Kenna only had 2 To Do's for this vacation and one of them was to meet Jasmine. I was so happy that we were able to meet that goal! Jasmine was so kind to my girls and even taught them how to stand like she does for pictures.

My Michael and I couldn't believe how great Mackenna was with all the walking that we did. Generally, she is a lazy bit of goods. She complains that her "belly hurts" if we walk to the end of our street. We've had calls from the teacher at school about Kenna's mysterious ailments that only occur at P.E. time. We didn't know how it was going to be with her walking for so long each day, but let me tell you: she was a champ!

Here she is as a pretty panda munching a piece of bamboo:

Mackenna really hates it when we talk about anything that happened before she was born. Generally speaking, it hurts her feelings that our family did anything worthy of recollection before she came along. For that and other reasons, I am so glad that we didn't take this trip without her!

Quotation of the Month

There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.

-Jill Churchill