windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (heart family)
On Saturday, Graeme turned 7 years old. He doesn't have much in the way of friends in the area, so we decided to make a weekend trip out of his birthday in lieu of a party. We had a wonderful time together!

Saturday our trip was delayed while Graeme attended his ballet class and then rehearsals for his roles in The Nutcracker. (I can't remember if I mentioned here or only on Facebook, but he was cast as a Party Boy, as a Toy Soldier, and as a Gingerbread Boy which means pretty much all day, every Saturday from now until December, he'll be at the studio.) Each week's rehearsal schedule is different and this time, he was in class from 9-10am and then went back from 1:30-4:15pm. Daniel and I split up. While Daniel and Elena ran errands, wrapped presents, and finished packing the car for our trip, I manned a chair in the lobby of the studio, scrambling to get Graeme fed, watered, and properly dressed in the short (sometimes non-existent) breaks between rehearsals in various rooms. There was a lot of shoe fixing and tights hitching up. :D It felt like being a boxing trainer--quick pep talks, a stool to sit on, and a water bottle. And not that it's anything all that strenuous but for Graeme, at his age, it's pretty much the most committed, hard-work kinda thing he's ever done. I'm proud that he'd trade his Saturdays to tackle something so big. <3


Once he was done, he changed into street clothes and we loaded into the hybrid for the drive up to Orlando--about two and half hours northwest of us. Graeme wanted to go to Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum as he's obsessively interested in all those bizarre facts and "did you know" kinda books lately. We got the the museum around 7pm (it was open until Midnight, so no worries there). The building is constructed to look like it is sinking into a sinkhole. (Though impossible to get a decent photo of it unless you're dodging traffic on International Drive.) Graeme had a great time. It was a strange place. The galleries held a mixture of things from African fertility statues to shrunken heads to clothes worn by some of the world's tiniest (and biggest) people. There were iconic coin operated machines--like the Zoltan fortune teller--and there was weird art like a massive image of The Last Supper created entirely with dryer lint. There was a Mona Lisa mosaic made of carefully cut tiles of toasted bread in various shades of doneness and another mosaic of Frankenstein's monster made with computer keys. I don't know what to make of the combination of optical illusions and wax figures of people with unusual talents, the oversized wooden chair and the tiny starfish under glass. Weird. Sometimes interesting but weird. :D


More odd Ripley's stuff under the cut... )

After the museum, we checked into our nearby Homewood Suites (free thanks to all of Daniel's business travel!) and ordered Thai food from @Siam, a place we've tried before and liked. Graeme got to open his presents over pad thai and cupcakes, quite happily. (We'd bought him a few books filled with interesting facts and a giant Scooby Doo pillow pet sort of thing. My sister-in-law sent him some Scooby Doo chapter books and my Mom sent some of those toy spy gadgets including room alarms and eavesdropping headphones, etc. :) ) I ordered a mango yellow curry with tofu and mango sticky rice for dessert and it was so happy.



On Sunday, we got out the door and drove to Magic Kingdom around 9am. We have season passes through February (and Elena's free until she turns 3), so it was fun to take advantage of that to extend Graeme's birthday celebration with a couple low-cost days at Disney World. Everything was decorated autumnally for their Not-So-Spooky Halloween party later that night. The park attendance was surprisingly light for a weekend, so we were able to get on a lot of rides with minimal waiting. We'd reserved Fast Passes for Dumbo, Buzz Lightyear, and The Haunted Mansion--which we walked right on--and we also had time for It's A Small World, Peoplemover, Barnstormer, the Carousel, and lunch at Columbia Harbour House. By about 2pm, Elena had conked out from the heat and we were ready to call it a day. We got back to the hotel, doled out snacks and television shows to the kids in their room and then Daniel and I conked out for a two hour nap. (Divine.) That night Graeme opened the second half of his presents (including a rock painting kit and a book to help memorize state capitals and presidents from his other grandparents) and we ate leftover Thai food and watched HGTV together. (Beachfront Bargains).

On Monday, the Magic Kingdom was nutso-banana-pants. We'd packed all our gear up into the car in the morning and arrived about 9:30am to crowds two or three times what they'd been on Sunday. The UV index was an 8, high enough that we could actively feel our skin frying outside despite our thick coatings of heavy duty sunscreen, and the humidity had the 'feels like' temperature up to 96 degrees. It was pretty miserable. The lines were so long for the Monorail and the Ferry boat into the park that we were directed into the line for the *buses*. That sucked. More people than buses, standing room only, everyone cram on and try to keep your children from being trampled in the rush for the doors. :/

We reminded ourselves that we were there to do a couple things and to go home when we wanted. So, we had Fast Passes to meet Tinkerbell (Elena had spent two days carrying her talking Captain Hook doll around and Tinkerbell was adorably offended at her loyalties. Graeme just stared at her dress, kinda starstruck, and insisted he was not a pirate despite his blue and white striped shirt.) We also got to ride Winnie the Pooh's honeypot cars and then Peter Pan on Fast Passes. We opted for things with short lines as we found them--Pirates of the Caribbean first thing in the morning, two rounds of Barnstormer, a trip around Magic Kingdom on the train, Aladdin's flying carpets and pineapple Dole Whips for the overheated kids. We bought a few souvenirs in the Emporium and then headed home around 2pm when the heat was unbearable.

We got home early enough for the kids to work on their chalk art in the driveway while I caught up on dishes and laundry. And, once the kids were in bed, Daniel and I had dinner and watched the finale to The Quest together! :D

Late last night, Graeme developed a fever of 102 out of nowhere. He was miserable and it was climbing, so we did the parenting scramble of Tylenol, Motrin, and a cool bath to bring his temperature down. Today, after some sleep, he's back to normal and ready to resume his busy seven year-old life.

Disney photos under the cut! )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
Birthday Balloons
Does anyone have any leftover (deflated) birthday balloons in their junk drawer somewhere? Graeme has made a request to have balloons for his birthday. Any color will do, I'll just blow them up, tape them to chopsticks, dump them into a vase and call it a centerpiece. :D

If you have any to spare that you'd like to drop in an envelope and send our way, let me know! :) We'd be very grateful. :)

Black(ish) Seed Beads (Sent by [ profile] lilith42: THANKS! :D :D :D)
In that same vein, if you have black (or blackish) seed beads, Graeme would sure like a few. He's making salt dough snowmen as Yule gifts and we're having to replace "coal" eyes with toothpick-poked holes-for-eyes. Ten to twenty beads would be more than plenty. :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (rhi&I)

Today is [ profile] rubymulligan's birthday. She can once again lord over me how much older and wiser she is. ;) We met several years ago, after she joined [ profile] full_moon_swaps and sent me, unsolicited, an entire new community format and graphics package. It was subtle, like buying your fashion-backwards friend an entire outfit out of charity. Ever since, she's been teaching me how the cool kids do things. :D

Happy, happy, happy birthday to my very funny, very adorable, very bestest brain-roommate. Come visit me! :D I owe you a cake and some embarrassing singing. <3
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (beachcouple)
Thank you, everyone, for your kind birthday wishes. Yesterday we managed to both celebrate my birthday and fly home from Florida. Perhaps the best gift I received was a night sleeping in my own bed while dreaming that I had been given $15,000 to spend on gifts for people at an antiques/thrift store. Pure wish fulfillment. Gifts for everyone! :D You have no idea how long it takes to spend $15,000 when the items you're buying are all one-of-a-kind and only $1-$3 each. For-ever. Like, eight hours of sleep hardly got me anywhere. :D

We caravanned down to Panama City Beach's shoreline with my Mom and her boyfriend to say our goodbyes late morning before driving the seventy-some-odd miles west to the airport at Fort Walton Beach. Along the way, Graeme napped until a very fortuitous awakening as we were passing the picturesquely unreal town of Seaside, Florida. It looked like something out of The Truman Show with its perfect white sand beaches, ultra-green town square, and everyone looking well-dressed and riding on colorful beach cruiser bikes.

We parked our car and walked across the street to a colorful taco bar. It was the best veggie taco of my entire life. It was cold and sunny, we were wearing every layer of warm clothes we had, but well worth the sensation of sitting outside with the rustle of sea oats and the subtle sounds of the sea just over the dunes. After lunch, we walked down there and marveled at the beach. Daniel says Seaside has been named, time and time again, as the best beach in the world. I don't know how true that is, but I believe it. I've never seen such soft, fine-grained sand. It was all uniform, too, sparkles of white quartz pouring through my hands like sugar. Unbelievable. The water there was still and shallow as a bathtub. (Though cold and windy--it was no day to be swimming unless you were a polar bear or a particularly enthusiastic 8 year-old boy on vacation.) I've never been on another beach like that...I wanted to roll around in the sand, take bucketfuls of it home, roll around some more. It had an addictive, sensual, cleansing energy to it.

We lost track of time, to be honest, and had to scramble and pray the rest of the way to the airport. We did get checked in with a few minutes to spare and had an uneventful two flights and short layover in Memphis on our way home.

We got in around 10pm and Graeme went right to bed. I heard an outrageous amount of paper rustling downstairs and thought Daniel was reading the newspaper with quite a lot of emotion. I came down to find him huddled in his office over some gifts and big sheets of pink wrapping paper. A few minutes later, he arrived with great pride and a couple wrapped gifts and sang a very quiet rendition of Happy Birthday to me. :D

(He'd snuck into a Life is Good store at an airport somewhere and got me a pair of their cute girl boxers, a little hoodie, and a girly pink hat. :D)

Very happy. :D I'm drinking a mug of the Jasmine Dragon/Rooibos Tropical blended loose tea that Sarah and Jenn got me for my birthday, watching the sun stream through the stained glass heart I bought *myself* for my birthday, and am just feeling centered and cleansed and thoroughly blessed by life. :)


More Photos at Seaside, Florida here... )


windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)

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