Sunday, November 29, 2015

Griswold ... I mean, Scovil Christmas Tree

There's no denying that one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time is "Christmas Vacation". It's on ABC Family's Count Down to Christmas, for crying out loud!

This year, just like every other year, we went to our favorite Christmas tree lot (didn't recognize Dan because he's lost about 100lbs ... stress he claims. Hell, I've had a lot of stress and everyone knows Leslie hasn't lost 100lbs!).

We had Andy's truck this year because we traded our Tahoe right before Christmas for our new Avalon. Now, I'm not sure if that had something to do with our choice, because for whatever reason we seemed to have picked a very large tree this year.

We asked for a 10-foot, which it seemed we got. But when we got home, Nathan hauled that hummer in straight from the driveway into the house through the laundry room. He couldn't make the 90-degree turn so he got stuck. So what did he do? He wedged it even tighter into the pantry.

God Bless his soul. He tried so hard. He even went and got ratchet straps to strap the branches down. I finally got fed up watching him get mad, so I just went in, grabbed 'er by the trunk and horked her through. We may or may not have lost a few branches, but hey. She got up that this year and looked as beautiful as ever.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Disney World and Disney Cruise 2015!

We had been taking chains off for weeks; 9 weeks in fact. The chain had been so long we had to wrap it back around the wall twice to keep it from hanging on the ground. And now we were down to 2 links. We took these two links (to be removed by each boy on the last night) to Portland with us before our flight out. 

One of the main fun things we do at the hotel before our flight out is 1) pool and 2) room service/movie. It's tradition. The boys (since they had their own room attached to ours) chose to rent Paddington Bear while Nate and I watched San Andreas with The Rock.

We flew out the next morning. First flight was from Portland to LA. The two-hour flight was pleasant and non-eventful. We had only a 50min lay over in LA, so literally we landed, got off the plane and got in line to get back on another. That 5-hour LA flight took us directly to Orlando which was nice to just get there. Thankfully there were screens on the back of the headrests for this flight so the boys were entertained by Inside Out and other cartoons for most of the flight.

When we landed, we got our bags, grabbed a taxi, and went straight to our hotel. We stayed at the Wyndam Bonnet Creek Resort, which does have a time-share section. I had read the reviews before booking our 2 bedroom villa for the week. Some of them said to prepare for a 30min check in because you get the sales pitch. We got there, and what a beautiful resort it was! I had pre-ordered groceries and they were waiting at bell hop for us. She handed us the room keys and then I was waiting for the schpeel. She says "If you could go to the Welcome Desk (AKA: SALES DESK) they will have your vehicle pass. Lucky for us, we had no vehicle. We grabbed our room keys and walked out. Well, we did get stopped by a man in a suit directing us to the Welcome Desk but we told him we wouldn't need a vehicle pass and away we went. Quick. Easy.

Nate got on the horn right away to Papa Johns as we were all ravenous! The boys were going through ipad withdrawal.

I'm so thankful we decided on the 2 bedroom villa, which was about $700 cheaper than a standard suite room at a nearby Radisson. The boys had their own space, we could cook, we could do laundry. It felt like a little bit of borrowed home.

After a long day of travel we were all ready for the week ahead of fun! Both boys were dead in bed at 7:30pm. Nate and I enjoyed our pizza in quiet and gearing up for the day ahead when we heard "BOOM!" We both looked at each other and ran to the balcony only to realize we had a front row balcony view of the Firework display at Magic Kingdom. Perfect ending to a long day and anticipation for the fun ahead.

Monday, October 19: Magic Kingdom

We decided to not rent a car while we were there and just take taxi's. Our resort actually arranged for this car to pick us up every day to take us to the Resort. It wasn't any more expensive than a cab, and then we'd just grab a cab at the exit to take home. Much easier than renting a car and fighting/paying with parking. And it only ended up being about $15 each way.

Such a beautiful time of year. They had the parks decorated so beautifully. Our first day was Magic Kingdom and we hit Tomorrow Land first. We were immediately hit with waves of people. We were shocked at how many people were there! Most of the lines (mind you, on a Monday) were already 120min long! We decided to ride the Race Car ride and upon looking at our Fast Passes realized that none of them were until later at night.

We ate lunch and then hit a few smaller rides. I really wanted to go on Small World (because it's always shut down in DL) and Peter Pans flight was next door. Both rides were 120min long waits. We decided on Small World. It was heating up and standing in line at 90 degrees was not fun. We finally convinced Nate to take a break and head to the hotel for some swimming before coming back to the park. We'd decided since the park was open until midnight that a break would be fine. The Small World was fun, then we split for the door. Of course they were having the parade right then and getting through was enough to make any person pull out daggers.

We had a nice cool off at the hotel, dinner, and went back to the park in time for shorter lines and cooler temps. Everyone felt rejuvenated. We were able to do our Fast Passes on the fun rides like Splash Mountain (Griffin would duck under my arm on the big splash!), Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean. We rode Thunder Mountain Railroad at night, which was fun.

The fireworks were magic, as always. Nathan and I both tear up because it is so beautiful with the music and lights. We rode more rides clear up until midnight. By then the monorail was closed so we had to take the monorail to one of the resort hotels. Then we had to wander around there until we could find the way out and hail a cab. It was about 1:00am before we actually got back to our hotel.

Tuesday, October 20: Hollywood Studios

Today was Hollywood Studios! Since we slept in after our late night, we didn't get to the hotel until about noon. Honestly, we were all a bit disappointed in HS. The Indiana Jones show was closed and the boys were not into the shows at all. We did watch the Car Stunt show, which was cool. The boys rode Rock'n Rollercoaster using our Fast Passes while Nate and I relaxed. What's funny is the 2nd time they went, about half way through the line, Maysen chickened out. So Griffin went all by himself and loved it! That's my brave boy!

The Fantasmic Show started at 7:30. We got there about 45 minutes in advance to get decent seats. Griffin chatted with the boy next to him the whole time. Nate and I got to watch some couple behind us (and by couple I mean a man and an entirely too young for him girlfriend) making out the whole time. We got a chuckle out of what grumpy crusty couple we must seem and took our "loving" picture. Haha!

Images displayed up on the water spray. We left the show staring at the Tower of Terror. No one was brave enough to ride this ride, and that was OK! We got back to the hotel and ordered Chinese and hit the sack. We'd walked just a smidge over 15 miles in the last 2 days (according to iPhones) and were looking forward to a day off at the resort the following day!

Wednesday, October 21: Resort Day

It was nice to take a day away from the parks and just stay around the Resort. I think we could have spent the entire week at the resort.

Local ducks hanging out by the lazy river.

Loved this eatery (ok, "bar") poolside. One night we swam late and then ordered food to take back to our room. We were walking right by the pool and I asked Maysen to hand me the food. When he handed it to me, I pushed him right into the pool clothes and all. It was great - he was so shocked but then cracked up laughing. Griffin as pointing and laughing, so I pushed him in too. Fun memory.

Life-sized checkers!

Thursday, October 22: Epcot

Today was very hot and humid! There was a beer and wine festival going on so this place was CROWDED! The boys' main event on their mind was riding the Chevy Test Track ride and that was it. We had it FP'd for the end of the day. Nate wanted to see some things over in The World, so we were planning on a full day.

The first ride of the day was Mission Space. It think it's very considerate of Disney to warn it's riders that there could be claustrophobic situations and maybe some dizziness. But by the time we had gotten to the front of the line, we'd heard this warning 457 times and I was getting a bit paranoid and worked up. So we get in this thing and by then we'd been "given our assignments" on how to run this space ship. Mine was to be the controller so I had to push a certain button once we blasted off.

By the time the shoulder strap tightly clamped down and the simulation screen came about 3" from my face, I'm starting to rethink this whole gig. I start having a full-blown panic attack and I know the only way too get through this is to close my eyes and breathe. Focus. Since I was the "controller", as we're blasting out into space which meant that I was being hammered back into my seat, Griffin's yelling 'HIT THE BUTTON, HIT THE BUTTON!" and all I can mutter out while trying to breathe is "SHHHHHUUUUUUTTTTT UPPPPPPPP!"

It was silent for a few minutes while everyone else started to enjoy the ride. I finally opened my eyes once the G Spinning was over. Then I was okay! Just in time for the ride to be over! Haha. That was enough for me, but was fun. We started walking out of the ride and I look over at Nate and he's looking pretty green. We decide to go get lunch and he just couldn't eat. He was about to puke. He's not so good on fast motion so he wasn't feeling great. I gave him some phenergan at lunch and shortly after he was feeling much better.

Nate wanted to make it over to Japan to hear the girls drum. Unfortunately we didn't have much time to get over there, so we were hiking it pretty fast to get there. So fast that we were passing through really cool worlds I would have loved to have stayed in and looked - like England. But we had to get to Japan.

The drummers were fantastic! The energy that goes into such a performance was felt by everyone. it moved Nate to tears.

The boys were melting and juts like any pre-teen boys they were complaining the whole time about being hot and "can't we just go back to the hotel?" I'm going to be honest when I tell you I was on their side. I don't like heat - never have. I hate to be hot and sweaty. But there were some things that Nate wanted to see and we had a fast past for Chevy's Test Track ride at like 4:00pm. So, here we were.

Cooling off in the wishing well. I don't think there are bad Omens attached to that as long as they didn't steal the wishes.

Just a few countries away is Italy where we always love to go. It's such a neat place and there's always a performer - today it was Isaac.

This was super cool - it was a whole village with a model train that ran through it. But the village was humungous!

Ahhh, Test Track. Chevy is a smart company - to put a ride in Walt Disney. Here the kids walk in and with a partner you can design your car that you are going to race. You can design all components, engine, wheels, graphics, etc.

This was Maysen and I's car. We raced Griffin and Dad and they ended up winning. What happens is that you get in the car and your design car goes up against everyone else who is in the car with you. Based on the run (they did brake checking, 0-60mph check, race lap check, wet road check) they could decide who's car did the best. At the end of the ride when you get off, you walk through a Chevy showroom of all the newest Chevy models. Clever!

Friday, October 23: Bye Orlando, Hello Lake Placid! 

We checked out of our hotel around 10:00 and by the time we got in our rental car and off onto the road it was time for lunch so we stopped at my favorite place (but we don't have in Oregon) ... CRACKER BARREL!! I was a kid in a candy store - they boys thought they needed this giant Rice Krispies Treat!

We made it to dad's by early afternoon and it was nice getting to see all the renovations that they've been making on their house.