Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Readers Digest version life from Sept 2011-Feb 2012

According to the calendar and my bad memory, this is what went on:

Sept 2011
  • The new school year activities
  • Algebra I with Teaching Textbooks
  • Zack taking sword fighting
  • Katie starting Girl Scouts
  • A co-op to focus on unit studies, a different one about every six weeks
  • A teen group, mostly socializing
  • Katie continues with Art Class

Pete is still working at the Census and traveling a bit for work.

Park Day is still on the calendar, but we don't go very often.

  • Same as Sept, but added skating some weeks.
  • We did a corn Maize, which the kids rolled their eyes about but then ended up having a good time. There was a giant bounce floor that we all had fun on but got me kinda sea sick after a while.
  • Kids and I went to see a butterfly exhibit at the Smithsonian
  • Katie's best friend stayed with us for about a week and a half and it was fun having three kids around, considering they all got along pretty well.
  • Halloween!  Our neighborhood isn't very good for Halloween, so Katie made plans to spend the night with a friend and Zack, Pete and I went over to JM's.  We got there pretty late but Zack and his pal went around to get candy.  I think this may be the last year for it.  Maybe a party next year.


More butterflies


The teens went to Cox Farm's fall festival.  Here are K&Z being king of the haystack:


(it's possible this was Oct...)

Just before Thanksgiving the kids and I went to MIT Splash with friends.  They had a great time, but Zack ended up sick after the first day, so skipped class the next morning.  Zack's been having some hard luck traveling lately but we're hoping things will get better.

Then Thanksgiving with G&G Nuwayser.

Fairly typical month and a low-key Christmas.  Grandma came in for the holiday and headed out to LI the next day.

Our typical watch TV New Years Eve with mom and the kids.

All through these months, I was planning, planning, planning for the VaHomeschoolers Conference being made to look very good by the team of volunteers working in all the leadership roles.

And that was the end of the year and start to 2012, in which I hoped I would be better about keeping up with the blog, but so far, not so much.



So--think back to that almost winter we had back in late Jan/early Feb.  After winter 2011, I decided that I really liked getting away to someplace warm in winter time.  Didn't know if my mom was going to go back to FL in 2012, but just in case, I started brewing the idea that we would work in a trip to see Harry Potter at Universal if we did go down that way. the time mom decided not to go, I was enjoying the idea of harry too much and we decided to go down anyway--but only to Universal.

Well...then I looked at the calendar and realized that we were heading down to Orlando during Disney's homeschool days and that the kids could take a class while we were there!  I couldn't say no to Disney at open class enrollment but I did spare Pete the Disney experience.

Started with a stop off at mom's for a brief visit and drop off Toby.


We had to pick up our tickets so we could do early entry the next day so I booked dinner at Wilderness Lodge.  We had a fun time at the restaurant then caught a ferry over to the Magic Kingdom to pick up our tickets.  The kids decided we'd go back to the room, rather than watch the fireworks from the gates, but instead we got a great view of the show from the ferry back to the lodge!  It was a really nice way to get into the Disney mood of the trip.

First day, Magic Kingdom! 

 I was extremely brave and rode both Splash Mountain and Space Mtn.  Would have gone on the 3rd mtn too (Thunder) but it was closed for refurb :(

A not very good shot on Splash Mtn.

Otherwise a pretty typical day at MK.  Pineapple whip, Pirates, Peter Pan and a good peek at the Fantasyland extension and top of the new Beauty and the Beast Castle.  Katie will need to go back when it's finished.

Next day was the Chemistry class at Epcot.  Got there very early and I stayed for the very beginning because of the tickets.  Once they went off with their teacher, I ran to get some fast passes and to ride all the slow old lady rides that I never get to go on.

They really enjoyed the class.  Zack has wanted to do another Kim Possible mission so we went over to World Showcase to do two of those.  Then, I think we went back to the hotel for a bit. 

Trying to figure out the next clue.

After hanging out with some friends.

Back that night for dinner with Mickey and friends.  We almost lost our ressie due to a very slow moving line at Test Track but we dashed through the park and made it.

Next day, Animal Kingdom

I was not as brave and Katie and I passed on Expedition Everest, but here's Zack "enjoying" himself!

We did  enjoy Dinosaur

Saw a rhino!

 We actually didn't go on too many rides at AK, but did catch the shows this time, which were surprisingly good.  Surprising because the shows at Hollywood Studios were so bad when we saw them.

AK closes early so we ran over to Hollywood to see if we could catch the new Star Wars ride.  We made it in time to go on and I think Zack went on the Twilight Zone ride while Katie and I went on Toy Story Mania.  Long wait but fun.

Last day at Disney but ended on a great note with Pete getting in town!


Up early and through the gates at opening.  We knew the shortest route to the Wiz World.  I had been advised that if the wait for Forbidden Journey was anything less than an hour, it was worth waiting.  We hit the jackpot day, we never waited more than 10 mins for any of the rides.

Got to the gates and it truly is magical.  The music is playing, the Hogwarts Express is there and the Castle is ahead and you do feel like you just walked into the movie.  Katie was on the moon and the rest of us were smiling too.

We headed for FJ first and since the wait was so small, did the ride line first.  It is an AMAZING ride.  I was so glad I was able to ride it. 

On to Ollivanders and our first try of butterbeer while waiting in line.  Got one frozen and one not.  I liked the plain a bit better but wasn't blown over by either.  Kids liked it though.   Against my hopes and expressed wishes, the kids bought wands right away.

Second round of butterbeer
 We also tried Pumpkin Juice which I thought was a gritty horror but everyone else liked a lot.  blech :-p

Spent the morning exploring WWOHP, then headed out before the crowds grew too unbearable.  Can't remember if we had dinner at the Three Broomsticks that night, but I think that might have been later in the trip.

The rest of the park is fine, but too many stores and no magic like in Disney or at WWOHP-which is really like a different park than the rest.

Katie getting her Greek on at Sinbad

Boris and Natasha have a secret meaning for us ;)

Ripsaw Falls-just K&Z

 Just did Islands of Adventure that first day.  Enjoyed the Bilge Rat Barges and the Spiderman ride and Pete and Zack went on the Hulk and liked it but that was about it.  Went back to Harry to shop a bit more before leaving for the night.

That night, Zack's first swish and flick of his wand, snapped it in two and Katie decided she wanted a different wand (hmm, if only they had waited a bit longer before making their purchases....).

Next day we went to Universal Studios and Pete and I both enjoyed the theming better.  The streets were wider and we both enjoyed the movie themes, a lot of which we knew.

I went directly to the gift shop to return the broken and unwanted wands and they were terrific about it and gave me no trouble with the returns.

A highlight was when Pete got picked to play a role in the Disaster show!  Sadly, they don't let you take video, but we have the one shot of him above.

In keeping with my bravery theme of the trip, I actually rode the Mummy roller coaster ride.  It goes backwards very fast so Katie and I were unsure of it, but Pete and Zack tested it out for us and we had a blast!

Pete and Zack did Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, and we all rode the Simpsons Ride and ET (yawn).  Pete decided to skip Men in Black, which was a very dizzy ride.

The Terminator show was terrible--as we found with ALL of the shows at Universal.  I can't imagine why people talk about the shows there when they were beyond corny.  They were dated, dusty, hokey and cheap looking.  Waste of time.  

The food was overall unremarkable.

A tired crew at the end of the day.

The next day we hung around the hotel and then let Pete rest while Katie and I went shopping and Zack went to Disney Quest.

Next morning Pete flew off for his west coast tour with The Jet Age.

We went back to the parks and to do the Jurassic Park section of IOA.  I wasn't feeling so great (bad reaction to the anti vertigo patch I'd used the previous two days) so I didn't do rides and took it easy.  Katie and Zack did go on the Jurassic Park ride and loved that.  We all enjoyed the discovery center they have there too.  I also took a nice slow walk through the tour-only line of FJ while the kids rode the ride again.

I know we ate at the three broomsticks on this day and I tried pear cider, which was wonderful.  We saw the Sinbad show, which was atrocious.

We crossed over to the Studios to see the cute, but still not as good as the Disney bird show, animal show and to do the Simpsons ride again and even I rode the Mummy a second time.

That evening, back over to WWOHP for new wands, pumpkin juices, chocolate frogs and cauldron cakes for ourselves and friends back home.

It was a nice note to end the Universal section of the trip on.

Back to NC and grandma's house.  Good to see Toby, who was happy to be spoiled while we were away.  Since Pete was going to be away all week, we took the opportunity to have a nice visit with grandma.

Even during the mild winter, it was nice to get away to shorts weather and I am hooked on warm weather trips in winter now.

Next, I'll do a brief recap of the first half of the year and show some photos of our more recent NC and NYC trips.