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Florida Keys!

By on Dec 22, 2014 in Uncategorized | 3 comments

This is the destination I have been pinning all my hopes upon. We are splurging on a week-long stay at White Gate Court in the Islamorada area of the Florida Keys through Christmas Day. We have a small, not-fancy cottage interspersed with six other cottages on a 3 acre waterfront property. Best of all, dogs can be off-leash throughout the property and are encouraged to swim as much as they want. “Relax, you’re on the islands!” is the motto. It’s so pretty here and every day is within my ideal temperature range so I am very...

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Florida Creatures

Florida Creatures

By on Dec 15, 2014 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

When no one in my family shows any interest in planning our trip, we end up on my animal-centric adventures. “Look! There’s a lake Teddy can swim in!” “Hey, we can feed a baby calf from a bottle!” “Who wants to swim with manatees?” – that kind of stuff. I know there is often a fine line between a legitimate animal sanctuary and a “private zoo” sort of place but I can’t stay away when it is someplace like this: These wolves sure looked a lot like dogs to me and there were not a whole lot of rules about going in (with the attendant) to pet them. I don’t know their back story or why they can’t live in the wild but they were very interested in us and very relaxed with meeting new people. I figured that we were “enrichment” to them – they were particularly interested in smelling my shoes. Teddy scent? We met a couple of kangaroos and fed them buttered popcorn – apparently, they don’t like it plain. Does this all horrify my animal-people friends? You may want to stop reading because we touched a bunch of other animals. The animal presentation was fascinating, with a number of different creatures coming out. You will not believe what A agreed to hold… Later, we were all brave enough to get in on the action with a 125 lb Burmese python: At the end, the attendant asked the kids if they wanted a “special” photo opportunity. They are young enough that “special” means “something good,” but I know it probably means, “something that will amuse the rest of the audience at your expense” so I was ready with the camera. Other than defrosting from the FREEZING cold weather in North Carolina and making our way to the Florida Keys, our main reason for stopping so long in this area is to do a private “swim camp” with a Total Immersion coach. Given that my first lesson started with a panic attack about being underwater, there will either be a triumphant blog post at the end of the sessions or there will never be another mention of...

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Single Riders

Single Riders

By on Dec 14, 2014 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

When we lived in San Diego, I avoided like the plague any situation that might require standing in line for any length of time. So, while we did go to Legoland and Sea World and the Zoo, it was always at off times and never for a whole day. (That’s the glory of season passes!) I’d see other families all cranky and yelling at their whiny kids and think to myself, “Ha! That’s not going to be me because we can just leave long before it gets to that point. WE didn’t spend a fortune on this one day that must be fun, or else.” Well, now we are facing a January trip to Disney World that is costing a relative fortune and requires a high level of fun to be had by all in order to make it worthwhile. The solution? Go to Universal Studios to practice while we are still high on celebrating our $16.89 campground just a few miles away. K wasn’t feeling great and I wanted to see all the Harry Potter stuff so it was just me and the boys. Also our first time navigating a busy day away with managing diabetes. First day – ugh! We dashed to the first Harry Potter ride we could get on before the lines started but didn’t check ahead that it was a stomach churner. Kind of turned D off on the rides for a little while but he bounced back, even letting us talk him into going on the Mummy roller coaster – after which, we could say about every other ride, “Well, it won’t be as bad as the Mummy…”   All in all, our two days at Universal turned out to be fun! AND, the Harry Potter stuff was good inspiration to get A started on reading the books. I wanted him to at least read the first one ahead of time so he’d know what all the stuff was about but he got hooked and is zooming his way through the series (and redeeming our homeschooling efforts).   But the best part about our Universal Studios experience was realizing that we are a Single Rider Family. Seeing a 30 minute wait and the...

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Best Campground Yet?

By on Dec 6, 2014 in Uncategorized | 3 comments

When we were on Sauvie Island, outside of Portland, OR, I worried, “What if we have already experienced the best campground of the whole trip and it is only the first month?” Admittedly, my opinion was colored by having the Columbia River literally steps from the campsite and having a long term resident tell me to disregard the No Dogs On the Beach sign, “What? They don’t own the river!” (NY guy, natch.) Since then, we have stayed so many places, we’ve lost track of our ordering of favorites and horribles. For the price and location, though, I think we landed in a new Top 5 contender – Bill Frederick Park in Otlando, FL. $16.89 per night and less than 4 miles from Universal. This was A’s pick after I lamented that no one was helping me research RV parks. I think the kid is hired! Bill Frederick is a city owned campground inside a huge public park with lake, pool, playground, biking paths and a Children’s Farm that we have not yet explored other than to aww at the baby horse through the fence. We have good showers and a laundry right here. The only odd thing with these park campgrounds is that the gates get locked and then you are on your own, hoping that you are not camping with a bunch of psychos. But, hey, we’re talking $16.89 here! Here I am embracing being in the South and practicing parking on the grass: Dinner was a BBQ place we passed with dancing pigs on their sign. Effective! Rocket launch went off right on time this morning! Nice view from the campground and we could hear the delayed boom but too far and cloudy for any good pics. Tomorrow is a day of homeschool catch up and seeking out a bagel shop that claims to have “Brooklynized” their...

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Say Yes

By on Dec 5, 2014 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

Many of my friends already know this but for other readers it may sound like true confessions time to admit that I love William Shatner. In one of his autobiographies (the Man cannot contain himself in just one!), he summed up his life philosophy and advice as, “Say ‘yes.'” I remember trying to impart this wisdom to D a couple of years ago in the context of being  trying new things but then he trumped me by asking, “But not drugs, right? I shouldn’t say yes to drugs, should I?” Well played. Outside the context of drugs and other illicit activities, we are trying to be people who are open to new experiences. Not just because William Shatner says so but because what’s the use of this whole trip if we don’t do things? So, D and I got up at 3:30 AM to go to the Kennedy Space Center for the official viewing of the Orion rocket launch.   Turns out the launch got scrubbed after we were there for almost five hours so, on the one hand, it was a waste of time and money, but on the other hand, we are still riding high on our triumph of positioning ourselves to be some of the first people back on the bus – practically before the word “scrub” was fully pronounced. “Scr” and we were on the move, high-fiving each other as we pulled away and left the giant line behind (supposedly over 20,000 people!). Being onsite for the official countdowns and explanations was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be – enough that I even contemplated going back tomorrow to try again, but I can’t push my luck and end up stuck in a crowd for hours. Instead, we are going to watch from the waterfront here at the campground.   All of us were super-tired today – D and I from getting up so early and K and A from Teddy crying pitifully practically all night because he couldn’t sleep near me. So much for the idea of D and I trying to be out of the way so as  not to disturb everyone else with our early rising. But, here we...

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