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Category Archives: vacations

Disney pictures!

Our big Disney trip has sadly come and gone, but we have blisters on our toes, sunburns on our necks, and tons of pictures to help us remember our five magical days at Disney’s Kidani Village.  Our balcony looked over the savanna, and we could always step out and see zebras, giraffes, ostriches, and some horned cattle creatures that looked like yaks (I don’t think they were actually yaks, but that’s what we called them).  We walked all over the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios – and lucky for us it was Star Wars weekend, which meant strange-looking people were everywhere!  Here are some highlights of our trip.

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The Big Apple.

 I have had a long distance romance with New York City since high school.  When I was 18, my grandparents sent me there as a graduation gift, and I fell in love.  For the past 17 years, I have dreamed about returning.  The energy of the city is addictive.  Yes, it’s a little dirty and very expensive.  But the people, the lights, the noise… I just love it.  Finally, my dream came true and Mother & I went back over the weekend.  Only this time, we had one extra person with us.

Torin did amazingly well on this trip.  We walked her skinny little legs off.  Just when we thought she was completely out of gas, she would surprise us with a burst of energy and start skipping ahead.  We checked into our hotel Friday night and went straight to Times Square, where we ate pizza and absorbed all of the sights and sounds.  Torin’s favorite part was seeing a very interesting man dressed in what looked like old curtains.  He was wearing a rainbow tutu on his head.  (Don’t see that everyday in Brentwood.)  While we were in  Times Square, we rode the giant 3-story Ferris Wheel inside Toys ‘R Us.  After that, she was hooked.  Torin loved NYC as much as I did.

On Saturday, we saw the Empire State Building, went to the Top of the Rock in Rockefeller Center, shopped 5th Avenue, visited the Plaza Hotel and saw where Eloise lives, walked to FAO Schwartz and danced on the piano from the movie Big, and made ourselves sick at Dylan’s Candy  Bar.

On Sunday, we took the subway to Chinatown, ate in Little Italy (pretty sure our server was a mob boss), saw the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park, visited City Hall where my grandparents were married, walked on the Brooklyn Bridge, and then spent the evening at South Street Seaport.

On Monday, we covered most of Central Park, chased pigeons, filmed a scene for a t.v. show, did some more shopping, and ate at American Girl.

On Tuesday morning, we woke up at 3:00 a.m. central time and drug our tired buns to the airport.  Dave asked me if I had gotten New York out of my system.  Not a chance.  I’m already mentally making a list of everything I’ll do next time I visit.  :)

One more thing.  I have to give a big, BIG thank you to Dave and PaPa who planned lots of “boy stuff” with Parker while we were gone.  While us girls were living it up on 5th Avenue, PaPa and Parker were sleeping in Uncle Matt & Aunt Kristen’s backyard.  It’s not quite the Plaza, but I know Parker loved every minute.

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Vacation time.

We just got back from spending a week at Blue Mountain Beach (east of Destin & just west of Watercolor and Seaside).  My whole family drove down to attend my cousin’s wedding.  After the wedding, we spent the remaining six days swimming, walking the beach, building sandcastles, eating seafood, and swimming some more.  The beach was beautiful – Blue Mountain Beach is the highest elevation in the Gulf of Mexico and is protected by a reef out in the ocean, so the particular location where we stayed has not seen much oil.  We saw BP cleanup workers walking up and down the beach every morning, but we never saw them collect a whole lot.  My initial plan was to keep the kids out of the water due to all of the chemical disbursements, but I quickly realized that my plan was going to fail.  I finally just gave up and let them have a grand ole time splashing around.  Torin developed a rash on her trunk, but I really think that was from the sand irritating her skin rather than from something in the water.  Oil or no oil, we’re all ready to go back!  We had a fabulous time!

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We just got back from spending the day in Huntsville at the Space Center.  There is a traveling Star Wars exhibit there this summer, which is the main reason that the kids wanted to go.  Here are a few pictures from today… we all enjoyed the trip, and I think we can safely rule out “astronaut” as a possible career choice for Parker.  (The pictures at the end prove that his feet need to be planted firmly on the ground.)

You know those rides where you climb to the top and then free fall to the bottom?  Here is the kiddie version.  I’m not sure Parker knew what he was getting into.  Notice that both kids were smiling on the way up.

Whoa.  Parker just realized what this ride is all about.

His face during the first big drop…

“Hi.  I know we just met.  But I really want to throw up on you.”

 That got everyone’s attention.  All eyes on the white boy who is turning pale green.

Thank goodness he made it through the whole thing without losing his lunch.  Torin was on her own for the other rides.

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Our weekend in New Orleans.

Dave and I spent the weekend in New Orleans where we toured the Garden District, the cemeteries, the Lower 9th Ward, and then ate our way through the entire French Quarter.  These first pictures are from one of the cemeteries we walked through.  I found myself oddly fascinated with the above-ground tombs.  (New Orleans is about 8 feet below sea level, so caskets used to float to the top if they were buried underground.)  I was wowed by the beauty and intricacy of these tombs.  Some of the ones pictured cost over $2 million.


Enough of the cemetery talk.  Let me show you my new BFF.  See this guy making the beignets at Cafe du Monde?  I think I love him.  He makes my favorite food.  Just remember two important rules before you eat a beignet: (1) don’t wear dark clothing, and (2) don’t breathe in (unless you want to cough up a lung caked in powdered sugar).


More pictures of our hotel, the Manning family home, and the French Quarter…


And finally… Jackson Square.


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Back from the desert.

 We made it back from Phoenix around 3 p.m. on Tuesday.  Our luggage didn’t make it until 9 p.m., but at least it made it.  I told my suitcase that I didn’t care where it had been, I was just glad it was home.  We had a fun-filled long weekend eating Mexican food, riding horses, climbing mountains, roasting marshmallows, and harassing Grandma’s little dog.  Now it’s time to switch gears and focus on Christmas programs, holiday parties, and shopping (I haven’t even started).  But first I’ve got two or three or twelve loads of laundry to do.




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Our summer vacation.

How much can you cram into a 36-hour time period?  A LOT.  And I’m not even sure we were there a full 36 hours.  We took the kids to Chattanooga this weekend.  It’s much closer than I thought – it took less than two hours to get there – so that was a huge plus.  On Saturday, we went to the Aquarium, then splashed around in the fountains downtown, then ate pizza, then splashed some more, then got Ben & Jerry’s, then walked to our hotel and jumped on the beds, throwing caution to the wind.


On Sunday, we went to the museum, and it was GREAT – apparently nobody goes to the museum on a Sunday morning (especially Father’s Day), so we had the place to ourselves.  The kids dug for dinosaur bones, dressed up like the Curious George characters, played with all kinds of pulleys and simple machines, and had a blast.  There are still several things that I want to do in Chattanooga someday (like Ruby Falls and Rock City), but the heat was so suffocating that the outdoor stuff had to wait!


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