Friday, December 28, 2007

Disney is homeschooling?

Well, surprisingly, it sometimes was.

Animal Kingdom--the least surprising place to learn. The kids were given little books with animal facts and a place to get stamps from different stations. Katie and I went to the survival center (or something like that) and learned about habitats. Kate and Zack were given a ton of time by two cast members to discover which animal left a certain kind of scat, footprint and teeth marks on the plants (turned out to be a white Rhino--a personal favorite). They were given a lesson in recognizing animal calls and walked around the aviary with a chart to help identify the birds. Plus the whole place has zoo exhibits all around.

Epcot--We went to Paris! Pete wanted to see an ancient movie on France, which the kids loved and now Katie wants to learn more about the country. We went to Mexico and talked about the Day of the Dead and Aztecs. We Soared over California on the hang glider ride and talked about the crops they grow there. They also have a KidCraft program where they collected paper cut outs all over the park, which had info on different countries or technologies. Plus, We got lucky and the closed for renovation Space Ship Earth was open for testing for a couple of hours and we traveled through the history of humankind.

MGM Studios--A stretch, but we did learn about some great old movies, which I love and want them to appreciate.

Magic Kingdom--We went to the Hall of Presidents and learned a bit about past presidents. Unfortunately, we mostly heard a long, boring and insipid speech by the idiot currently in office--but it was a chance to teach by example a lesson in decorum as I sat politely and waited until the end instead of standing up to exclaim "What an IDIOT" and blow raspberries over and over as the GW Bush robot addressed the crowd.

We talked a bit about Mark Twain--although we never did make it over to Tom Sawyer Island :-(

We also went to the Carousel of Progress ride in Tomorrowland. Very corny, but a sweet walk through the history of technology.

So, no, not a master class at an ivy league school for sure but here and there and everywhere, opportunities abounded.

Spotting the White Rhino

Monday, December 17, 2007

Disney Surprise

I had always planned to bring the kids back to Disney before they turned 10 (and become adults in Disney pricing) and that was even more settled when we received vouchers from Jet Blue last year for sitting at the airport for 12 hours. We had done a quick and cheap(er) two days at the Magic Kingdom when they were 6 years old.

Originally, we planned to go in April, but I got a brainstorm when Pete took off an extra few weeks before starting his new job--which he started today, BTW. Let's surprise the kids and go to Disney now!

So, I sneaked their clothes into the suitcase and we sneaked the suitcases into the car, woke them at 5am last Sunday and off we went to Orlando. They were very suspicious when we got to the airport and had completely figured out our destination when we landed. They were thrilled but subdued due to the early rise.

This was the big trip, staying on Disney property, using their meal plan and seeing all the parks, except the water parks. It was very fun and the only challenge is not to spend gobbs of money once you get there. Lots of rides empty out into the gift shop, there is something called the Bippity Boppity Boo shop where little girls can get a bun in their hair for a mere $50 (yikes!). I was stunned by how many we saw who had gotten the whole hair, costume and sash for $200. Crazy!

Katie was longing for the princess treatment, so I appeased her by letting her buy some hair do-dads and putting it in a bun myself. I am very proud of them, though, they played and ogled everything in the shops but didn't whine or beg for anything. I decided to get them some Disney trading pins and lanyards and they had fun trading with cast members and other kids for the last two days of the trip. And, of course, we squished pennies at all the parks.

The trip was great, the weather was sunny and warm, the waits were short and the food was good. Zack was tall enough to go on all of the roller coasters with Pete. Katie and I prefer milder thrills, like the Peter Pan ride :-) Zack and I both nursed colds the entire trip, which meant early bed times, but otherwise we had a lot of fun and did most of what we wanted in each park.

There were other nice surprises--we ended up with a corner room with more space and light and with a trundle bed, so K&Z didn't need to share. Pete and Zack won all day fast passes at Disney MGM and they gave Pete two extra for Katie and me. The kids got free pins from a cast member. We saw lots of costumes characters with little to no wait and Katie scored a free bag of cotton candy for being nice to our food server one day.

The trip home was BUMPY! The flight attendants were not allowed to stand and that always makes me crazy. As it turned out, it was not as bad as I had expected, so I kept my cool for the most part and Katie and Zack were preoccupied with the TVs in their seats to worry too much.

Here are some of the pictures we took (mostly Pete and the whole reel is 430 pictures).

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Snow and Cookies

It snowed last night and Zack headed out to enjoy it first thing this morning. Katie took a bit longer to wake up, but then she, too, headed out to enjoy it before it melted. Actually, more of it lasted out the day than I expected but certainly not enough to explain the HORRENDOUS DRIVING in Virginia starting with the first snowflakes yesterday afternoon! Unbelievable!

Today I braved the idiots on the road to head to Lorraine's in MD to bake many batches of cookies with her and Nanci. We had a great time and ended the day with a mountain of baked wonders. Snow and baking--Christmas is coming!