Monday, December 22, 2003

belated Thanksgiving Florida trip update...

A trip to FLA. Quincy got his last free flight. We flew out the Monday before Thanksgiving – a nice direct flight and even an extra seat to use. We also flew out midday – quite nice. Got us in for a latish dinner – it didn’t help that we got a bit lost on the way there and it took us about twice as long as it should.

Mom & Dad (Gma & Gdad Thompson) had rented us a 6 bedroom 3 bath home with a pool. We all agreed it wouldn’t be our choice of homes to live in but it worked out great as a rental. The living room had 4 sofas in it ringing the room so seating for all was not a problem. We were a bit cozy at dinner as the kitchen table really sat 6 best and we had to drag over the nice chairs from the dining area to supplement it. Audrey had a highchair to use. The garage had been converted to pool, foozball and basketball shooting area – we should have used it more than we did. The Websters had a queen room sharing a bathroom with the 2 twin bed room – the kids beds had very large Mickey Mouse on one and Minney Mouse on the other – the kids were pretty happy. The room also had a Playstation which I regret to say I didn’t try – I have never used one. I think there may have been a TV in every room. The main room had a large rear projector HD TV with DVD. Sweet. I took Finding Nemo with us – Aidan got to see his first full length movie. I think he watched most of it…

The first several days were quite warm and we got to use the (heated) pool a few times. Then there was a cold front that came through on Friday – we drove home in the driving rain from Gville although Rob & Dad & co got an earlier start back and missed it. The OR Thompsons arrived Tuesday evening after a long day and some flight delays. Dad was nice enough to shuttle them back and forth to the airport. Audrey is a real cutie – a very sunny little girl. I was really happy with Quincy’s reaction to her – we have seen him push over at least 4 children smaller than him in recent times at playgrounds – it is very deliberate – you watch him look them up and down – can almost see him determine that he can take them – then a firm hand push to their chest and down they go. Makes us cringe! I guess he is just so happy to be bigger than someone. Most of Aidan’s friends siblings we hang out with are a few months older than Quincy and definitely larger. Anyway – all 3 kids played really nicely together and there was no fighting or pushing. Audrey is still in the mouth everything stage – we got some Dominos for Xmas – she really liked them!

On Wednesday we opened birthday presents for Audrey and Quincy. Both my kids liked the coloring LeapPad Gma got him. Gma also had tons of grandma toys that she had brought along so the kids were fully entertained at all times. Later in the day we had “Christmas� – presents everywhere! I thought I had brought plenty of room for presents once I got rid of ours – after all I had almost a full suitcase for presents. Ha! Quincy got a huge stuffed bear among other things. Good thing there was that car seat bag to fill up… Both kids also got very soft hand crocheted afghans and pillows from Greatgrandma Killinger. They loved them and toted them around all week. Of course Paco loved them too… Quincy was typically terrified of Paco. Especially if he was sort of caught unaware. Other times he would do OK. I think maybe he was willing to pet him once. Audrey was supremely unconcerned about Paco even when she would get to occasional tongue swipe to the face. Aidan liked him but was still somewhat timid.

I baked a cake for Quincy & Audrey – unfortunately the rental truly had no food (not even salt) and limited cooking stuff – no cake pans or mixer. Turned out fine though – Quincy helped me decorate it with sprinkles after it was frosted. I did like Sarah – made a cake I wanted – chocolate with sour cream frosting. Mom had the place fully stocked with food and drinks before we showed up (and I do mean fully!) although we still managed to spend 2 or 3 more hundred at the store. We were all skeptical that there was anyway we could go through it all – and we didn’t finish off the 6 loaves of bread nor all the pantry items, but we did pretty well on the frig items. Mom cooked us excellent meals as usual with Dad’s help manning the grill. There was the smoked turkey, grilled chicken breasts, and a large salmon grilled - all on various evenings. Yum. Also lots of roasted sweet potatos – a favorite of mine. Quincy did manage to blow out his candles on his birthday party night in FL – unlike at Ellie’s house.

On Thanksgiving Thursday Dad was long gone when we work up (golfing with Larry and Troy). The rest of us had a leisurely day – unfortunately Audrey and Quincy had opposite nap times the whole trip. She was getting up at 6 or so and ready for a nap by 9 – we got up at 8 and ready for a nap after lunch. Then she needed another later afternoon nap when Quincy was up. Oh well. Audrey mostly got her naps respected. Quincy didn’t. I think he got to sleep on the way over to Tampa that day. Lynne & Troy have done a nice job (with Larry’s assistance) in making Dad’s childhood home into an attractive more modern home. Larry, Larissa & Alec were there and Adam came with his new wife Meredith. There was plenty of food as you would expect – and tasty. It was a bit of a pot luck with Lynne & Troy providing the turkey, ham, mashed potatos and green beans and others bringing appetizers, salads and desserts. I made the molten chocolate cakes that I love at their house. We had plenty of chocolate as Larissa had also made individual chocolate cakes! After dinner Lynne announced that she was newly pregnant. Hopefully she will have an easy and healthy pregnancy to look forward to. Between dinner and dessert the gang took a walk down to the Bay. Troy took along a couple of fishing rods and managed to pull up a couple of fish (and release them). Aidan was quite fascinated and a bit scared I think. Quincy was in fine form and having a grand time – I think he ran the whole way – and we went a few blocks! Quincy was surprised a couple of times by one of Lynne’s cats – boy you should have heard the blood curdling screams! Poor cat – he just wanted a bite of his food.

On Friday we all headed to Gainesville. A 2 ¼ hr drive instead of 1 ¼ hr. We had lunch of fried chicken, fried okra, hush puppies and lima beans – all you could eat at a restaurant in Alachua. I wouldn’t want to eat it often but it was tasty. Afterwards we headed back to Norma’s house for a little visit. I was disappointed that besides Norma, Stewart & Great-grandma we only saw cousin Shelby. The visit was also short so I didn’t get too much socializing in with either Norma or Gma – also a big disappointment. Rob had even less time as they left at least an hour before we did as Audrey was ready to nap. That was the evening that we had salmon for dinner. Very tasty and I don’t usually like salmon much.

Saturday Mom & Dad headed off to Sarasota to check out retirement homes and visit with a friend. Rob & Sarah decided to hang out at the house. We Websters headed north to the Science Center. It was a very nice Museum (Alec had recommended it) with a variety of hands on things the kids could enjoy. There was also an Imax with free movies – we tried to see one about Stomp but they switched it to one about Dolphins at the last minute. It was fine although nothing too special but it gave Quincy an opportunity to nap. We got home maybe around 7 – just in time for dinner…

We had debated going to Disney on the weekend – but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to join the post Thanksgiving crowds. Then we thought to head to Silver Springs – but Rob had been sick and Quincy had also thrown up so we decide to pass this trip. Instead we headed off on a trip to ck out some more retirement communities. We had lunch (at Irish pub) in Mt Dora and then a little walk around the town. Again the Thompsons decided to head for home earlier so that Audrey could nap. Pete had headed off with the kids in search of a playground and had finally found one as the others were leaving. I joined him and then we headed across the street to do a little nature walk along the lake. I have to say it was one of the highlight activities for me. It was close to sunset. There was a little rainbow in the sky and reflected in the lake for no reason I could figure. We saw a swimming large turtle and also an alligator swimming. There were some nice birds to see including what I am sure was a kingfisher – very attractive. There was a raccoon eating some scraps left at the side of the boardwalk path. The path wove in and out of the woods? Underbrush? Out onto the lake and back. Attractive.

Rob had told us that the Disney planned community of Celebration had “snow� every night on the hour. Aidan had really been looking forward to it but we hadn’t gone the previous evening as it was a bit too cold and perhaps late. But finally – Sunday evening we made the 8 p.m. performance! They have 3 or 4 snow machines above the lightposts on each side of the little main street. The snow is made of soap bubbles. Quite convincing from afar and fun to be in regardless. Quincy wasn’t so sure he wanted those bubbles on his shoes however. It lasted 10 minutes or so and was a hit with the kids. This was all set to Christmas music of course. Then we checked out the fountain thing at one end of town – one of those ones that randomly shoots stuff up. People would try to time it and run across. Finally one dad and daughter got caught and SOAKED. After that my kids said no to the horse buggie ride (esp Quincy) and yes to the little trainlike people mover tour of town. So the train it was. Dad & I had driven around Celebration during the day a few days before – quite nice – looks like it has been there a long time – but of course in mint condition (it is only 10 yrs old after all). There was a variety of sizes of buildings – apartments, town homes to mansions on the golf course. No adjacent houses looked at all alike either.

Finally on Monday we decided to head to The Magic Kingdom. To see Mickey’s home you know! Rob & Sarah had to fly home so they headed off to Celebration for lunch with Dad before he took them to the airport. Mom joined us and we saw Dad mid-afternoon. Disney truly is vast. We only made it to maybe (not even) half the park. And you take long people movers from the acres of parking – to the mono-rail to get to the park – and then you walk…. We saw Mickey and his friends performing in front of the castle as we headed into the park. My first ride with the kids was the Mad Hatters Tea Cups (I love that ride!). Then we decided to do Pooh’s Adventure (Pete had read up in the Official Disney Guide Bk from the rental house which rides we should do with little kids in tow). We waited a good 45 min in line – no too popular with any of us! And saw all these people using their “Fast Passes� to go to the front of the line – aggravating! But we learned our lesson and Pete invested in Fast Passes for us from then on – no investment required other than running around to the various rides to get the tickets when they are available. An odd concept but it works great if you do it! Mom rode with us on It’s a Small World – I remembered it rather fondly but found it oddly freaky this time. Really weird little dolls singing and dancing. We took a little lunch break – I had brought a lot of food but Mom hadn’t and the kids liked her purchased food better than anything I had brought anyway. Other rides we took – The Jungle Cruise (with Dad), Peter Pan’s Adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean (Aidan was scared), Aladdin’s Flying Carpets (Aidan’s favorite – he did it with me and you could make the “carpets� go up and down – I liked it too), Splash Mountain (flume ride partly in the dark to Brier Rabbit theme) – Pete’s favorite – we had 5 Fast Passes all told for this one – he rode it alone first and loved it so much he got us 4 more passes. Dad & I took a turn – we got soaked unfortunately right before sundown – but fun. Pete took Aidan (who was just at the 40� height restriction) – Aidan wore his rain jacket and got soaked but not cold fortunately. And had a good time although he did later say he didn’t want to do it any more – once was enough although he did give it his 2 thumbs up. We also climbed up Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. And they went over to Tom Sawyer’s island (while Dad and I Splashed). Cell phones were a great invention although the book also recommends walkie talkies. We saw the 3 p.m. parade after we saw the Country Bear Jamboree (Christmas) show and we saw the 6 p.m. light parade. Mom and Dad headed back to the car at that point – Pete figured we could get in another couple of rides. We did the Haunted Mansion – Aidan tried to duck out but we didn’t him – so he just closed his eyes most of the way. We got to front of the Peter Pan line again thinking it was the Pooh line when Aidan said if it wasn’t Pooh he wasn’t interested. So we tried to head for the exit when the 7 p.m. firework show started. Aidan wanted NO part of it. Quincy had finally passed out during the Haunted House ride and there was no waking him. We got bogged down in the crowd in front of the castle so we had to join the masses leaving afterwards and waiting in line for the mono-rail. Disney does an amazing job with crowd control I have to say. It takes a while but you are always moving. A good day, a long day. Then home for our last dinner and packing. Pete decided it was his night to put the kids down (the 1st of the trip) and he went down with them. I packed all our bags. Pete rousted himself to ck on me close to midnight. We had a 7 a.m. flight and the airport was a good ½ hr away. We got the kids up a little after 5. Fortunately Dad said he would return our car for us as his flight was an hour after ours.

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