>So here I am, with only 40 hours left in the US before we fly to Germany and I sit here wide awake. It’s 3 am and the rest of the US is happily snoozing away and I’m WIDE AWAKE! I’m going to blame it on preggo insomnia but it’s more likely that I’ve just got so much to do in the next 2 days that I want to get started now.
We have had an amazing time getting to this point and I wish I had had the time to journal each step of the way. I must say I’m grateful for Facebook as I’ve updated statuses along the way and can go back and read bits and pieces of our adventure later.
Our packers were efficient, though I won’t know their level of quality until I receive my goods on the other side. We had one set of movers come out in early OCT and that stuff, our unaccompanied baggage, has already arrived in Germany. Our 2nd set of packers came 2-4 NOV and packed/loaded our HHG (household goods… almost everything we own). The 3rd and final set came 5 NOV to get the things that we had decided not to take with us, as well as the things that were decided for us that we couldn’t take. Among these items there are 4 things I will miss the most: my side-by-side large fridge, my deep freezer, my super-capacity washing machine, and my new, AMAZING front loader dryer. I got them prepared for storage down to putting a tube sock full of charcoal in the deep freezer and my refrigerator. The moving company says this is the most effective way to keep them smelling fresh for 3+ years.
We began our hotel adventures on the 3rd of NOV to simplify matters… many people are willing to “rough it” in their house with no beds, plates, cups, etc. but since I’m expecting and, on top of that, have 3 active boys to entertain, there was no way I was going to do that. The hours we spent at the house with the movers were enough to confirm that we made the right choice in staying at the Colorado Inn. We had 2 rooms connected by a non-functioning kitchen area but each room had a microwave and mini-fridge. We made do just fine and appreciated the free laundry room at the end of the hallway. On Saturday the 7th the carpet cleaners came to do their magic and the next day we spent our last Sunday at New Life. I was given some adorable gifts for Parker by friends both at New Life and Fort Carson. I can’t wait to see the little guy wearing them! I also celebrated my birthday that week and we went to Olive Garden to celebrate. YUMMY!
Monday, the 9th, we met our housing representative at the house for the final walk through quite nervous about what he’d find. Specifically speaking, when we moved in I had painted the downstairs walls a beautiful color (Contemplation, by Behr, if you’re curious) and we had to prime over it before clearing. I was terrified the rep would walk in and say, “I don’t think so… Go get more primer and add another coat.” Let me stop here and say that on Thursday Matt sent me and the boys to the hotel to rest while he sat with the Non-temp packers. At 4 I called to check in and he had surprised me by painting 2 coats on these walls… something I had expected to have to do myself. Turns out it was good that he had done it since the Kilz was not safe for me to be around while pregnant. But my fears that these two coats were insufficient were not realized and we cleared quarters with no unexpected fees. The fees we did have to pay were the lost key fees. Over the 3 years I had lost a mailbox key and a house key… expensive mistakes, but at least I knew what to expect.
So after we left the house we headed to the housing office and Matt did the final-out paper work while the boys and I played on “Aidan’s playground” one last time. I snapped a few pictures of my mountain while they played and I got a picture of Corie’s house just for sentimental purposes. I’m gonna miss her! Once we left there we stopped at 4-10 CAV for Matt to officially sign out and I got to say good-bye to our FRSA one last time. Then, we were on the road to Amarillo!
That first night we were SPOILED by the Holiday Inn Express. Beautiful lobby, amazingly large and well decorated rooms, great pool with mood lighting, and the manager sent us on our way the next day by gathering 5 bananas and 5 bottles of water so we’d have snacks on our way. We decided at that point we’d stay in as many HI Expresses as possible. Though none of our nights compared to that first one, we were satisfied each night nonetheless. The only down side of our hotel nights was that first night Hayden had a major chemical reaction to the pool and spent quite a long time in pain and it spoiled swimming for him. He has yet to get into a pool since. I’m praying that once we get to Germany and find that the pools are treated with something other than Chlorine that he’ll try swimming again. He’s so good at it and it is such a shame for him to have to sit out while the others play.
Here is a quick list of where we stayed over the next few days:
Tuesday night we stayed in Dallas, TX and visited the Sixth Floor Museum.
Wednesday night we stayed in Lafayette, LA and Matt took the boys to see Astroboy and gave me the night off.
Thursday we drove through New Orleans at lunch time and ate at Landry’s for lunch and Cafe du Monde for dessert. I wasn’t really impressed with the city itself and left nothing there, but now we can say we’ve been there! We slept in Pensacola that night.
Friday we arrived in Orlando, a day earlier than expected. (Mapquest said it was 8 hours from Pensacola to Orlando but our GPS got us there in 6…)
Our amazing travel Agent, Melissa Sims, had recommended a hotel for us to stay in for the few days before our actual Disney trip started so we had 3 nights in Comfort Inn, Orlando. It didn’t quite match the quality of HI Express but we were close to Downtown Disney! (If I had to do it over again, I’d stay in the HI Express next door but we wanted to go on recommendation and overall got a good deal on the hotel.) It was a nice change to be able to leave my shower stuff in the bathroom for 3 nights instead of having to pack it up for another day on the road.
Saturday the 14th we took advantage of the great military family deal that Sea World offers and we spent all day with Shamu. For $63 total we got our money’s worth and more! These deals are very much appreciated and I can’t even begin to express our thanks to Anheuser-Busch for running this special for the last several years.
Sunday the 15th we enjoyed breakfast at Cracker-Barrel and then explored Downtown Disney. We had no idea where we were going or what we’d see, but we happened to park right near the Lego Store. As we walked up we saw tons of kids and people and a GIANT Buzz Lightyear being built in the center of the store. We had entered the side doorway and realized that if we were to go in the front, the boys would get to help build this massive super hero. Bailey is the biggest Buzz fan I know so this made his day and mine as well! We didn’t have to wait long to get a table and start working. This was a treat and we went back the next day to see the finished product. He is an impressive feature, for sure!
Monday, the 16th the grandparents arrived and set up the motorcoach at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. We checked out of our temporary hotel and drove the 2 miles to Port Orleans, Riverside, getting checked in. Since our room wasn’t quite ready and they said they’d text me when it was, we drove over to see Grammy (Matt’s mom) and Nana and Papa (my parents). The boys enjoyed running around in the woods and stretching their legs in and among trees, something which Colorado severely lacks (along the front range, high desert area, anyway). We all took a bus to Downtown Disney for lunch (Wolfgang Puck Express — YUM!!!) and had to show the grandparents the boys’ handiwork at the Lego Store. That evening we had a dinner reservation at our hotel’s nice restaurant, Boatwright’s, and the grandparents whipped up something in their home-away-from-home. (They didn’t do the meal plan this time, but after seeing the value in it, they might do that next time.) We headed back to their coach for some late-night fun and saw that some people go all out in decorating their motorcoaches for Christmas and/or Disney themes. That was a fun ride around the campgrounds by golf cart. We decided to skip the movie under the stars as Bailey was getting close to losing control and it turned out to be a good choice. We avoided meltdown by being willing to miss something that would have been fun but not at a good time.
Tuesday the 17th we had a most magical day. I wouldn’t change anything about this day. The weather was great, the crowds were minimal, the boys were amazing, and the Character meal was delicious. As an added benefit, the grandparents joined us for this one reservation and as it was our first meal with characters, it was a very special one. We had allowed each kid to pick one ride to do first at one of the parks and we were fortunate that the rides they selected were at 3 separate parks. Bailey had chosen Buzz at Disney World as his top choice and we got to ride that several times. Of course we hit Dumbo, Peter Pan, and we learned that Hayden LOVES roller coasters. Carson rode Big Thunder Mountain twice, a feat I’m quite proud of. That’s his size roller coaster, though Hayden wanted bigger and scarier. (Bailey needed to be brushed once during the day and he recovered from the brink of a melt-down with charm and grace, making me extremely proud of him and thankful for Ms. Kirstin and the tips she had given us during our time in OT.) Space Mountain had been closed all day for testing and I was terribly disappointed that Hayden would leave this magical place without the chance to ride it. Toward the end of the day we rode the Blue Line (a slow tram-like ride that takes you around Tomorrowland (?) and inside Space Mountain. We heard the roller coaster going and also heard people screaming and wondered about that. When we exited that part of the ride Dad noticed that they were letting people on Space Mountain. We called Mom immediately (who had Hayden on the race track ride) and they ran to get in line. Matt and Dad headed over there as well, while Grammy, the boys, and myself went back for more Buzz. As it turns out, Matt and Dad’s car rode just fine, but Mom’s and Hayden’s got stuck at the top of the track. FOR 20 MINUTES! But once it got going again, Hayden loved it and I’m happy to say that his Magic Kingdom experience was complete. We left that park at 7:30, half an hour after it officially closed for the day. We had arrived at 9…it was a full day!
Wednesday the 18th was EPCOT day. We had worn Grammy out at Magic Kingdom so she stayed behind at the coach and rested for this day. Hayden had chosen as his first pick to ride Test Track. We went straight there and they rode it first thing. HE LOVED IT! We grabbed Fast Passes for later on so they could go back and ride it again. Our posse headed from there to the section to the right of the giant ball and spent much of the day there. I honestly can’t remember what all is over there right now but we did many things. I do remember that this was the day we had dinner reservations in Epcot so we decided to take a nap time during the middle of the day. Hayden was the FIRST one asleep! Driving test cars will wear a kid out! One fun thing I had never done before and was glad to do was the ride inside the ball. Bailey was quite nervous about this one (after being freaked out a bit by the big dip in Pirate’s of the Caribbean the day before) and the lady who put us in our car handed him a flashlight. How thoughtful was that?!? He did great and enjoyed his time, using the flashlight only occasionally, when it would get totally dark. That evening we went back to the park for a dinner reservation at the rotating restaurant, Garden Grill, I think it’s called. We met my parents for a walk around the lake and stopped in Germany for them to enjoy sights, sounds, and tastes of where we’re moving to. We stayed for the fireworks and, frankly, were disappointed. I wish we had seen the ones at Magic Kingdom, but we weren’t in that park on the days they had them. Eh, small thing. Nothing to complain about.
Thursday the 19th was our Hollywood Studios day after a character breakfast at the Beach Club. Grammy had recovered enough to join us and this was Carson’s day to pick the first attraction. He made me happy as Indiana Jones Stunt show was the first thing on the map and it worked well in the timing of our morning! The first part of our day went incredibly smoothly. We hit Indiana Jones (AMAZING!) then the Star Wars ride (all 3 boys loved this), the Jedi training show, (adults were bored, kids enjoyed it) and then my favorite, the Stunt Car Show. After that we sort of lost our mo-jo and things didn’t work as well for us the rest of the day. Buzz had an hour wait and it was too late to get a Fast Pass (and if we had gotten them earlier it would have messed up the plans for the things we DID get to do). Matt, Dad, and Hayden went off to ride Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Roller Coaster, and let me say, they had a great afternoon. Hayden is not afraid of any ride, that kid! They were able to do both rides twice. Mom, Grammy, and myself, however, were not so lucky. Every ride/show we wanted to do was either full or already starting. We eventually got into the Playhouse Disney and by then the day was done. We knew early on that we’d revisit Hollywood studios before our vacation was complete. That evening was the night my kids had been waiting for… SOUVENIR DAY! I had told them that we would get them a souvenir but not until Thursday, since I wanted to be sure they had seen all there was to see and could make a good choice. The grandparents all decided to do Christmas for the boys as well, so you can imagine the joyous occasion this was! We left Downtown Disney with each person carrying bags and 3 boys who were ITCHING to get into their packages.
Friday the 20th was the grandparents last day with us. My kids needed a break so we decided to not go to a park at all. My parents headed to Hollywood Studios so mom could ride the two big rides with Dad and then they went to Animal Kingdom for a few hours. Matt, myself and the boys stayed at the hotel and grammy joined us for the day. We spent this day partly by the pool, with the remainder of the day in the room building the Lego creations that were designed for someone with a higher level of education than I have been blessed to receive. We had an absolutely relaxing, wonderful day and highly recommend a day off rather than forcing 5 straight days of Disney fun. It was really hard to see the grandparents leave, but it helped that we had dinner reservations at the Grand Floridian that made us get the good-byes done and our minds off of the sadness. Let’s just say this Character meal was not my boys’ favorite, as it was the Cinderella one. I got my picture taken with the most beautiful Cinderella I’ve ever seen!
Saturday we headed back to Hollywood Studios and had the magic this time! We got to do EVERYTHING we wanted. We made sure that the first thing we did when we entered the park was to get our Fast Passes for Buzz. Then we got in the line and rode it then, knowing we had another turn coming up later on in the day. On top of that, we got to meet Indiana and take pics with him. Then I got to do my favorite again, the Stunt Car show! This park was our favorite so far… we only lack going to Animal Kingdom and we do that tomorrow. Saturday’s Character meal was at the Contemporary Hotel (the triangle one that the Monorail goes through). Food was good and the characters were fun, though we were worn out by this point. The boys had wanted to ride the Monorail but since it really didn’t go where we were going all week, it was never really an option. BUT, since we were in the Contemporary and needed to get to Magic Kingdom for a transfer bus, they were able to ride it after all. Just helping to fill out their Disney Experience a bit more!
And that leads us to today. Shew. I’ve been writing a while! I wonder if Blogspot will let me have this much text in one blog… Anyway, since we had to check out of our Disney hotel today we decided to take another day off and rest. (I highly recommend that if you’re going to do a 5 day pass, stay at least 7 nights in a Disney hotel and take 2 rest days. I wish we had stayed one more night, but eh, no biggie.) We saw a movie this afternoon, got the car unpacked in our final hotel, took the boys for a swim (the two who will get in, at least) and ordered pizza in. Tomorrow is Animal Kingdom, the next day we prepare our car and ship it (the place to drop it off is 1/2 a mile away), and fly outta here.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to… How about you?