Friday, July 16, 2010

Harry Potter--Universal Studios

After 7 days of Disneyworld, we hit Universal Studios.  Our main focus was to see the new Harry Potter section of the park.  

I'll confess, I haven't read the books, but they are definitely on my list now.  Gunner and the girls have read them, and even Junior knows all about Harry Potter.  

Inside the castle is the coolest ride!  I think I did most of the ride with my mouth open, I was so shocked at what I was seeing.  Great ride.  (It's a little intense as a girl passed out on the ride not long after we got off, so they had to shut the ride down for a bit.)
Abs took her Harry Potter costume and several people stopped us and wanted to know where we got it.  (Ummmm......Current outlet for about $7.)

Abs enjoying a butter beer.
Abs with the singing toad choir or something like that.

Junior in front of Hagrad's house.

Abs in front of the Hogwarts Express.

The whole area only had a few rides, but lots of shops.  Em was in a wheelchair this day and unable to walk at all, so we didn't go inside any of the shops because of the masses of people.

They had a wand experience that my kids really wanted to do, but the wait was several hours and then you still had to wait in line outside of  Ollivander's.  Next time I would add the wand experience as the older two were willing to wait hours for that.

I really wish I had read the books before we went there, but I just had a few million other things to do.'s overly priced to get in, the crowds are overwhelming, the heat and humidity is outrageous, but my kids, who are huge Harry Potter fans, loved the experience.  

P.S. The butter beer was good and the pumpkin juice was great as well!  

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Conversation With Abs

Last night we had the final briefing about the deployment.

I'll get to some stuff in another post, but of course Abs stole the show.

They went through all the technical stuff and they mentioned there would be a portion of the briefing dedicated to questions from the families and Soldiers.

Abs eyes lit up and she said "I have questions".

Oh dear.

They mentioned they would hand out microphones and Abs started trying to figure out how to get one.  I assured her that she could ask me her questions later.

She wanted a microphone, but they decided not to hand them out, and the LTC would repeat the question.

Someone asked a routine question, and when the LTC asked who was next, Ab's hand shot up before we could stop it.  The LTC saw it.  He pointed to Abs.

Abs stands up in a crowd of about 800 people, wearing her Twilight Burger King crown, a red and white polka dot dress, and her new daddy doll in her arms.

"Is my daddy going to come home?" came out loud, strong, and in the sweetest, most innocent voice you have ever heard.

The audience responded with sadness, "Awwwwwwww". They all waited to see what he would say.

The LTC stopped for a second.  Collected his thoughts.  He repeated the question.

The lady behind me put her hand on my shoulder.  I teared up.

He didn't laugh at Abs, he didn't smile, he took her seriously, and not one person in the audience said a word.

He responded with something to the effect of.....I am not a shoe salesman. I don't make promises that I can't keep.   I'm not sure what the future holds.  What I can promise you is that your daddy is well trained.  He has had the best training available.  Your daddy has the best equipment available to him.  I am pretty sure your daddy can handle anything that comes up.  Your daddy is with a group of men that are some of the best in the Army, and I promise you that we will do everything we can to keep him safe and all the other Soldiers safe.

Abs smiled.  She understood that he couldn't promise her daddy's safety, but she appreciated that he promised to try.

The LTC looked relieved that she didn't ask anymore questions.

I cried.  9 years old.  She's been through three year long deployments and this one will be her fourth.

They never get easier...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Who wants more stress????

Apparently that would be me.

Gunner stopped by housing and they have a house available on post for us.  We are going to take it.

So in less than two weeks, we have to pack everything up, move, and send Gunner off to war.

I have no idea how this is going to happen, or what it means.  I am taking my vegetable garden with me, somehow.

I have a lot of purging to do.  I have to get quotes from a moving company since I can't move my piano or the shrunk by ourselves.

We have no boxes.

I hope this works out and isn't a HUGE mistake.  It won't snow as much there, which kind of makes me sad.

But I like an adventure, so I guess we are giving it a shot.

I only called him and asked him to check with housing because I was irritated about something here.  Maybe next time I should keep my mouth shut?

Gunner as a Dad

My kids are very fortunate in that they have a dad who would do anything for them.  During our time in Tampa, we hit the beach one day and he was recruited to be the Little Mermaid.  (I'll spare you the full body, but they completed it with shell decorations and all.)

Since Em had hurt her knee, there was no way that she could get around the beach on crutches.

He carried Em to the water, to the towels, to the water, to the sand castles, to the water, to the towels, to the water, to the towels, to the water......
Of course Junior benefits from riding on his shoulders, playing with him, and all the roughhousing that I don't do.
Sometimes I feel like I have four children because he is just as goofy as the kiddos.

Abs is a hard kid.  Very hard.  Sometimes I think that no one can love her like I do, but I know he does.

Our time is limited, but he has done his best over the last year to leave his children with memories to hopefully hold them over until he returns again.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Did we scar him?

Goofy's Barnstormer at the Magic Kingdom.  Junior rode the Hollywood Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Railroad, Splash Mountain, and everything else, but for some reason he did not like this ride in Toontown.

Luckily, his fear didn't last long or I would have felt like a horrible parent.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Army Wives

I finally caught up on the show.

There were a few things that stuck out in my mind.

When Claudia Joy said "We never get used to it, we just get through it".  I think that sentence sums up my life right now.  Yes this may be the 5th year that he will be gone from us, and I can't say that it is any easier except for I am not having a baby this time or starting a new career.  I would like to think that I do more than "just get through it" though.  I'd like to think that I improve my life somehow while he is away.

The whole part where Trevor told the oldest boy that he was the "man of the house" rubbed me the wrong way. As a teacher, there were so many of my boys that were told that, and it stressed them out, especially if their moms were having a hard time with the deployment.  I liked Roxy's response of "do not ask a boy to do a man's job".  I wish more people took that to heart.  I can see asking them to help out a little bit more, but I think just the title of "man of the house" is what irks me.

When Trevor stated that "Army kids grow up faster than most", I cringed.

Do you think that is true?

I'd say my kids know a lot more about world events than most kids.  I think they are resilient, make friends a little bit easier, adapt to change faster, but grow up faster?

Sure they worry about their dad being in a dangerous position and most other kids don't, but I just don't see that they are wise beyond their years or are more grown up than their peers in the civilian world.

What do you think?

Air Force Giveaway

I'm Army.

We live on an Air Force Base.

Abs insisted on joining the deployment club at her school since she knew she wasn't returning.


I have two copies of....

If more than two people want it, I'll have Abs pick a number since they are her books.  Very easy, just tell me you want them, so I know that they go to a good home.  


Monday, July 12, 2010

Abs and water

Remember my facebook status that said something to the effect of "guess which child 'fell' into the fountain?"

I'm sure it wasn't hard to guess.

I was going through pictures from Florida and I stumbled upon these that Gunner took.

He took pictures?

It's a good thing playing in the fountains isn't a big deal, but she went on to get SOAKED.  He couldn't stop her early in the fun?

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I'm all ears!

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T-Rex Cafe

I had heard from two friends, that the T-Rex cafe was a must-see at Downtown Disney, so I made reservations.  Which I canceled later because I was too busy at the parks!

Finally we made it down there...

There was an ice cave in the middle of the restaurant that changed colors, and the dinosaurs came to "life" periodically throughout the meal.  All three of the kiddos were excited once we got inside (and Abs too).  
That's the ice cave in the back.

Abs was just excited to name each of the dinosaurs.

A giant T-Rex when you come in the door.  Gunner tried to feed Junior to him, but unfortunately those pictures didn't turn out.

The food was overpriced of course, but the place was packed and they were making a killing.  I think I want to own a franchise in some hot family spot like that.  

The food was actually pretty good, and I can't complain about the margaritas either.  When it was all said and done, we actually spent what we usually do at Rainforest Cafe, so it wasn't too bad.  I was just feeling cheap by that point!  

They have a play area outside where the kids can dig through the sand and "excavate".  Unfortunately we didn't see that till we were in line waiting to be seated.  I'd definitely go back again because I have kids that love dinosaurs, but if you don't, skip it for Planet Hollywood (which we did too!).
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The Truth Hurts

Junior went through a biting phase while we were in Florida.  

I took him to see this sign, and he was less than thrilled when I asked him to pose next to it.

"Don't do it mommy!"
Getting mad.  Checkout those teeth!
"It says Don't take pictures!"

Amazingly, once it was just our family of 5, the biting stopped entirely.  Hmmmm....
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

The end of block leave

It always leaves a pit in my stomach.

I know what's coming up, and now it's just a waiting and wishing game.  Waiting for the time to come and Gunner to leave, and wishing that time would go slower.

We packed in as many memories as we could, now we just need to do family pictures, which I still haven't arranged, and I am hoping for a miracle that it will get done in time.

We are crossing the final paperwork off our list.

He needs to go back and sign in off of leave, but that makes it too final.

It's back to work tomorrow and the countdown I have been dreading, begins.

A few of my favorite (facebook) things

Status Updates you know you are dying to read, right?

ABW ...

is off on leg 1 of the Griswold, I mean Hardt, family vacation. I'm already getting a migraine.

 checked all of the pullups through to Orlando, and JR decides to have an accident. The USO had size three diapers and we stuffed him into one of those.

Does not think anyone on the plane was sad to part ways with Junior.

Bets you can guess which kiddo "fell" in the fountain.

feels like she could write a Bernstein Bears book titled "The Bernstein Bears and Too Much Disney" starring Abs.

Thinks that it is wine/alcohol that gets you through extended time with family?

Just had her film debut as a deckhand, my mom as the captain and Gunner as a mechanic. Pictures to come, it was fun!

Is sad that Em's leg is swollen and painful, but the lack of wait times is pretty nice.

Just wanted you to know that Minnie Mouse's house has an alarm system installed. It was packed. Guess whose kid tried to scale the wall and set it off?

Is about to board the plane after the ordeal of going through security with three sets of mickey ears, a stuffed Mickey, a stuffed Minnie, a purse, four carry-ons, a carseat, a stroller, a wheelchair, a pair of crutches, and the rest of the family.

While Gunner was loading the car, he put Junior inside of the car. Junior discovered the horn and honked once for every car he saw "to warn Daddy". They were in a packed parking lot.