Saturday, December 20, 2014

Our Disney Vacation pt. 1

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Personalize a picture slideshow

From Valdosta Ga we headed to Clearwater Florida.  We had a bit of a late start since my mom and I were both hacking up a lung and feeling lousy.  This virus had just sucked! On the way we saw an overturned Miller Beer truck.  If you ever want to experience a considerable drivers gap drive through an overturned beer truck!  My mom offered to pull over if I wanted any.  Not a Miller girl so we continued on our happy way.  Actually getting to Clearwater involves a fair amount of driving the causeway.  Now that is just peachy for most people.  Me on the other hand not so much.  I have a HUGE phobia of bridges and open water.  So obviously I was not the one chosen to drive that part of our trip.  It involved me in the back seat with my eyes closed pondering why in the bloody hell I hadn't packed some Atavan.  Once we were in Clearwater things were dandy.  Princess Bear has been in love with Winter the Dolphin since the movie Dolphin Tale was released.  I alway like when she can see that someone or something had some adversity to overcome and does it in a way that she can respond to and want to imitate.  The Clearwater Marine Aquarium although spread out was actually smaller than I thought it would be.  The downside is that there is a roped perimeter about 3 feet all the way around Winter and Hopes tank.  So getting good pictures just wasn't happening.  Everything had bars from the partition or were shots of them swimming underwater.  Nonetheless PB had a smashing good time.

We had toyed with the idea of going to Busch Gardens in Tampa but it was a very rainy day and we decided to just head for Orlando.  I called our travel agent and she was able to get us into the Art of Animation at WDW a night early.  The rooms we had were in the Little Mermaid part of the resort so PB was thrilled from the word go.  The resort of course had a HUGE gift shop and PB was in heaven figuring out what she wanted to blow her money on.  The next day we had to move rooms since our original reservations were for a different Little Mermaid room.  I will say that in usual Disney fashion they make things as easy as possible.  Luggage services came and picked up all of our bags.  When we were at the park that day I received text messages telling us what our new room numbers were.  After dinner we went back to the hotel and our luggage was in our room waiting for us.

 The Disney Magic Band is something new since I'd not been to Disney in a very long time.  It's a band that you wear your entire stay and its basically your key to everything.  It is how you get into your room, it's how you access your Fast Pass+, and its how you charge things.  It is a very handy way of keeping things streamlined.

Our first day there I'd arranged Fast Pass+ for Ariel at her Grotto, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and Under the Sea~ Journey of the Little Mermaid.  PB had a wonderful time with all of those.  Meeting Ariel was just huge for her.  The biggest thrill for her was meeting characters and getting autographs and pics with them.  It almost makes the $35 autograph book from Etsy worthwhile!  The staff the entire time was beyond wonderful with PB.  At Enchanted Tales with Belle she didn't want to participate in the show but she tried going up to Belle afterwards for an autograph.  Since giving autographs isn't the norm for that attraction I thought she was going to be disappointed.  Nope!  One of the cast members took PB's book and told us to meet them outside.  They had Belle autograph her book and gave her a special bookmark.  She was thrilled beyond words!  The crowds in the evening weren't bad at all so we used our Fast Pass+ for Under the Sea and were able to go on a second time after that with no Fast Pass+ but only a 15 minute wait.  After that we did some shopping in Belle's special store.  PB bought a stuffed Beast that cost WAAAAY too much but thrilled her beyond belief and a Belle t-shirt.  After that we were off to Be Our Guest for dinner.  Oh my gosh!  The restaurant looks exactly like the Beasts castle in the movie!  Right down to it snowing outside the windows!  The Beast is one of PB's very favorite characters so this dinner was truly a thrill for her.  The Beast goes through the restaurant about every 45 minutes and he also meets with people for pictures.  Our waitress explained to PB that the Beast has a very had time giving autographs with his paws so she brought out a special autograph from Belle.  All of the characters play their roles so well.  When PB went to meet the Beast she was holding her stuffed Beast doll.  The Beast took her stuffed Beast and acted like he was going to put it on the mantel and keep it there.  To say that she loved it would be a huge understatement.

I must also give hats off to Disney in the way they've really tried making time standing in lines easier for parents.  We went on the Dumbo ride early in the day.  It was a 20 minute wait.  Nothing horrible but still not great when there isn't much to do.  Disney has it set up so that you stand in a very short (less than 5 minute line) to get a pager.  Then there is a play area for kids and seats for parents to chill until their pager goes off.  You turn in your pager go stand in line for a few minutes and its your turn to ride.  Way easier! 



Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Another picture slideshow by Smilebox

Sunday, December 7, 2014

On our way!

We left Illinois around noon yesterday.  At that point in time I was just very relieved that we were getting the heck outta dodge finally!  I'd had all of Princess Bear's (PB's) and my things out and ready to go into suitcases by Friday night.  My parents on the other hand had NOTHING packed.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  Yesterday we made it from Peoria to Oak Grove KY.   Otherwise known as the home of Fort Campbell KY, home of the Screaming Eagles 101 Airborne.  My friend Susie and her family had been stationed there for awhile.  She warned me the town was boring.  It was.  We went to mass at St. Michaels this morning.  It was a lovely little church that really seemed to focus on the military families.

We didn't leave Oak Grove until around 10:30am by the time we repacked and had a quick breakfast after mass.   I was the first one up for driving today.  We wound up going through Nashville less than an hour before the Titans had a game starting.  It was a bit chaotic around the stadium and my friend had warned me that Nashville is a bit crazy to drive in.  It was but since I cut my teeth driving in Chicago it wasn't too bad.  Kentucky certainly is beautiful to drive through.  PB wanted to know if we could stop in Nashville and find Luke Bryan or Florida Georgia Line!  The driving gets really dicey near the Cumberland Plateau.  It's a 6% grade and pretty nerve wracking.  There are 2 runaway truck stops!  Yeah, I was not loving the driving at that point in time!  The following is taken from Wikipedia about this particular stretch of road:

One of the more hazardous stretches of Interstate highway in the United States[citation needed] is located approximately 40 miles (64 km) west of Chattanooga on I-24 in Monteagle, where the highway crosses the Cumberland Plateau. Compared to grades elsewhere, Monteagle's 4–6% grade does not come close to the steepest (Interstate 40 between Nashville and Knoxville features 5% grades in each direction as well as a 5% grade north of Nashville on 24, near Joelton), but the slope is protracted over a distance of several miles. While all motorists need to exercise caution, truckers are particularly vexed by Monteagle, and many have died going through this area.[citation needed] As runaway trucks had been a regular and deadly occurrence, in part of the failure or inability of truckers to slow down to the 35 mph (56 km/h) truck speed limit once on the slope, the eastbound lanes were rebuilt in the late 1980s. This work reduced the grade, widened the road, added a required stopping area with traffic lights for trucks prior to descending the mountain, and added two runaway truck ramps where a truck whose brakes have failed due to overheating can exit into a long pit full of loose gravel to safely stop. Owing to geography, these two ramps are on the left side of the grade. This stretch of highway inspired Johnny Cash to write a song about Monteagle Mountain.


I wound up driving for near four hours through some beautiful country into Tennessee and into Georgia.  My mom wants to take a return trip down there in the fall.  After that it was naptime for me.  I slept my way through Atlanta.  We spent time discussing with PB what each state is known for, what its major crops are and any other points of interest.  I figure since she's missing 2 weeks of school we might as well work the brain a bit.  We made it as far as Valdosta Georia which is near the Florida- Georgia border.  It's also where Moody Air Force Base is.  I'm detecting a theme here!  Tomorrow we're either driving to Clearwater first to stop at the Clearwater Aquarium where Winter the dolphin from Dolphin Tale fame resides and then on to Tampa for a quick visit to Busch Gardens or vice versa.  I'm then hoping to drive into Orlando so that Tuesday morning we can drop off our luggage at the hotel and hit Disney first thing.  We do have 3 fast passes as well as dinner reservations for Be Our Guest.  

So far I will say the trip has been pretty smooth.  PB and I are making my parents crazy listening to tons of Luke Bryan and Country Christmas on XM radio.  My parents and I haven't really wanted to kill each other...always a plus.  There's been a ton of roadkill which I hate.  Last night there was a deer that had been hit but wasn't dead yet in the middle of the highway.  I really hope the game warden was called to put the animal out of its misery and clear it off the highway.  I really do hate seeing stuff like that.  I've also can't remember ever seeing as many police pulling people over as I have in Georgia. 

This is a picture of PB hanging out in the hotel tonight with my parents

 photo throughFLday2055_zpse0462ff0.jpg

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Well, our Thanksgiving plans were kind of flushed down the toilet because I was (and still am) totally sick.  I felt so bad that my dad didn't go spend Thanksgiving with his family.  Several of my great aunts are in pretty fragile health and I did try to convince my folks to go to Chicago for the day. My mom wasn't having any of that.  My mom also did do a great job of throwing together a traditional Thanksgiving feast in less than 24 hours.  Princess Bear (PB) was very upset because my mom didn't make her favorite jello but all things considered my mom did a smashing job!

Sickness has also invaded my sisters house.  She, my brother in law and nephews all have pneumonia.  Since we're leaving for Disney so soon we didn't want to visit with them and share the germs.  My oldest nephew had his friends birthday party cancelled a few weeks ago and his family party was cancelled this past weekend since none of use could come.  He handled the disappointment so well and I'm so proud of him for it. I did promise to take him to lunch at Red Robin when I get back from Florida.  Btw- what is it with kids and Red Robin?  My nephews and daughter love the place.  I just don't get it.

I wound up at Prompt care on Friday because I was still hacking up a lung and my face was literally swollen on one side from my sinus infection. My Dr. had the nerve to take Friday off and none of the other Dr.s in the practice had any openings.  My advice is unless you have one foot in the grave avoid Prompt care the day after a holiday!  The Dr. was nice enough but you could tell he'd had one hell of a day.  He was very sure I had the flu.  Thank G-d I don't!  He decided that switching antibiotics was the best thing to try.  I'm still running a constant temp and hacking up a lung so off to my Dr. I go tomorrow.  I really need to feel better like now since I still have a ton of stuff to do to get ready for vacation.

On Saturday Princess Bear started sneezing and coughing which is how this whole mess started with me.  Saturday night when she laid down for bed she started hacking really badly so I had her spend the night sleeping in a recliner in our living room.  Having her propped up helped some.  Yesterday she started running a temp and I started to panic.  When she gets sick she gets very sick and stays that way.   I called the Dr's answering service hoping that her pediatrician might be on call.  No such luck there.  They had a triage nurse call me.  The nurse explained that the Dr on call never gives antibiotics over the phone although in her opinion it wouldn't have hurt to start PB on a round of antibiotics.  I was ready to call the pediatrician at home.  No I don't do it often but honestly can't fathom what would have happened if I couldn't get her started on antibiotics to nip this in the bud.  The triage nurse decided to bump an appointment and put PB in that slot.  Gotta love it when you deal with awesome, helpful medical people!  Not having to get PB up for school at the crack of dawn probably helped too.  She slept in big time today.  Sure enough the Dr said she had a sinus infection and bronchitis.   Enter the augmentin and a side of probiotics.

So that is the story here.  Now I'm off to hopefully sleep like a normal person since I haven't been doing that well lately.  See ya on the flip side.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Another Farm King baby?

Wow!  With the show not being on any more it's been awhile but it seems that the King clan is going to be growing again!  Pete & Jessie have  a little one due!  Congrats!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dude...I'm over being sick!

Anyone who has been reading my blog for awhile knows that I'm a pretty big believer in green living and homeopathic remedies.  I will always try to opt for that first.  One of my standbys is elderberry.  If you aren't familiar with it take a moment and check it out HERE.  It's some pretty amazing stuff that can be used for bacterial and viral issues and generally shores up the immune system.  I have Princess Bear (PB) take 2 Zarbees Mighty Bee Gummy Immune support everyday.  You can find out about them HERE.  I usually wind up popping 2 when I'm giving them to her.  Unfortunately sometimes you're up against something that a preventative immune builder just can't wipe out.   :(

I started feeling pretty run down a few days ago.  I thought it was the onset of yet another sinus infection.  By yesterday morning I could not hear out of my left ear at all (I ruptured my left ear drum in '97 and it's been a bit cranky ever since.)  Then last night the deep hacking cough started.  I do love that I can go online and make an appointment with my Dr. even if it's after hours.  Pretty dang convenient!  So there I was at 9:30 this morning discussing politics with my Dr.  (He loves playing Devils Advocate but I even had him stumped at one point!).  The verdict?  Ear infection, sinus infection, upper respiratory infection, possible strep and something viral that there is no point testing for since they can't do much for it.  So bring on the prednisone, antibiotics, decongestants and cold and flu elderberry formula.  Oh and don't forget the probiotics so the antibiotics won't totally jack up your gut flora.  If you have one think about plugging in an essential oils diffuser and getting some Thieves oil or Purification going in that bad boy!

My cat thinks life is grand since I've been one with the couch while hacking up a lung.  This means that the human is always around to lie on.  I have been trying to use the time somewhat constructively and added 47 new designs to my Cafe Press store!  Then there was the not so constructive but fun catching up with TV shows I've had no time for!

Whatever this ick is has also invaded my sisters house.  My youngest nephew has been down and out for most of the week.  We were keeping our fingers crossed that the oldest wouldn't come down with it since he had a friend birthday party scheduled for tomorrow.  Well, the text came rolling in at  7:30pm that Tyler was indeed sick and the party would be rescheduled after the holidays.  What a pisser for a little dude!

The other down side is that since I'm pretty contagious there is every chance that my daughter or folks will come down with this.  We're hoping that everyone who is going to get it gets it quickly so it will not mess with our Florida trip.  It has however put a major crimp in our Thanksgiving plans.  We used to go to Chicago every year to celebrate with my dads family.  When my nephews were born it became too hard for my sister to go up and back in one day so we stopped going up there.  My dad decided that he wanted to spend some time with family especially since some of his Aunts are getting up there in age and are becoming a bit fragile.  My mom decided today that Chicago is off that they weren't going to leave me alone for Thanksgiving.  I did tell her that if they were all healthy that I would really be ok with them going up for the day.  Right now the discussion has been tabled.

Bottom line is sick sucks in so many ways!

P.S.  If you are interested in making your own elderberry recipe you can take a peek at these  HERE HERE and HERE.   All the recipes are pretty similar.  Most differing in a few spices and quantities.  I'm going to be making a big batch in the next few weeks to share with my sister and her sister in law.  I'll probably make the last recipe.  I love clove.  I love the smell and taste of clove and it makes the biggest batch so it seems like a good pick for me.   Fortunately all of our kids love the stuff and homemade is always best, right? :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Restraint

There are times that my restraint amazes me.  Not because it's particularly strong.  Quite the opposite.  I have no filter when it comes it saying things, I'm very opinionated and share my opinions often and am pretty hot tempered.  The only thing I do have going for me is that on rare occasions I can keep my temper from completely blowing up and give myself sometime to regroup and get my ducks in a row.  Don't think for a second that I'm going to back off.  That almost never happens.  What I will do is make sure that I have all my i's dotted and t's crossed.  Then I'm going after whomever and they have little choice but to grab their ankles and sing along.  This is especially true when it comes to protecting Princess Bear (PB).  She's my one and only child and is entirely too trusting.  Therefore Mama Bear has to stay vigilant. 

Once again my daughters teacher decided to play screw around.  She didn't like it when she got called on the carpet for screwing up yet again at the IEP in October.   Frankly the women is dumb as a box of rocks. She was dumb enough that in front of the Principal and PB's coordinator to say that she is still only teaching one reading level.  This has been a problem since last year and why they were able to get another teacher since I raised a stink back then.  SO, here we are 7 months after the initial meeting but with a new, more involved principal and she makes this revelation.  Things were promptly put into play to have PB tested and put into an appropriate reading group.  Things should have been peachy keen.  One small problem though.  Progress reports came home yesterday.  PB went from an A in Differentiated Instruction (DI) to a D.  First problem here is that I was not notified that my child had dropped 4 letter grades.  NOT ok.  Especially if you consider that the teacher now has to send home notes every day to let me know what PB has been working on and how she is doing.  If there is a significant drop like that I better be finding out well before the next progress report or report card.  Now comes the real kicker.  The assignments that were done in DI are very subjective reading and writing assignments.  In other words a very easy way for a teacher, a dumb teacher albeit, to give a student a bad grade if said teacher is upset with the students mother because the mom called the teacher on the carpet in front of their boss.  So I walk into school and PB is frantic because she has a D and knows that in our house there is never a good reason to have a D.  I look at the teacher and ask what happened and why wasn't I notified.  She tried blaming it on the new DI teacher and wouldn't even stop to discuss it with me.  Big mistake.  I was on the phone calling PB's coordinator before we even got out of the school parking lot.

The school that the coordinators office is in is at PB's old school which is a block away from our house.  I gave it an hour and decided to just go to the office.  The coordinator knew that I was very unhappy from the time I sat down.  She pulled up PB's grades and low and behold the first 2 assignments after that IEP meeting were F's.  PB had never received an F before. Do you watch NCIS?  I'll go with Gibbs rule on there is no such thing as coincidence.  All in all I spent about 2 hours with the coordinator going over ALL the problems we've been having.  The coordinator is has flat out said that she knows this isn't a good situation and that there are issues with this teacher.  I guess the good part is that she's retiring after this year.  The bad part is that she sucks as a teacher and this is the second year that PB has lost out on what she could have learned if she had a good teacher.  The coordinator did tell me that I would be fully within my right to go to the Superintendent of Special Education as well as the Coordinator of Special Education.  I did mention that I'm a bit leery since there is now a direct correlation between this teacher being called out as screwing up and my daughter's grades suffering.   I'm not entirely sure but I think at this point I'm going to let the Principal and coordinator take care of this the best they can.  I did say if there were other complaints and there was any chance the teacher could be removed from the classroom immediately for the remainder of the year that I would certainly fly this up the flagpole as high as it needed to go.  I'm still beyond livid and frankly am amazed that I haven't flat out told the teacher what a lazy piece of shit I think she is.  I wonder if there's a Hallmark card for that? 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Does weekend time go by faster?

It seems to me like the time on the weekends just flies by in comparison to time during the week.  I also am not sure where all my time went this weekend but I was busy and am now tired so hopefully that counts for something.  I did go digging around in the deep freeze to see what kind of meals I could put together with what was left in there.  I found some of last falls raspberry peach freezer jam and applesauce and thawed those out for Princess Bear.  She would happily eat her body weight in homemade applesauce.  The friends that I get our apples from had a poor crop this year so no apples for us.  What a bummer.  I've been seeing all these apple recipes and not an apple in sight.  The thing I liked about getting our apples from Darnell and her husband is that they don't spray their trees ever.  They usually have a TON and we would come home with several 5 gallon buckets full of apples.  There isn't anyone else I know around here that doesn't spray.  Man sometimes I really hate living in such a chemical laden world. 

I really am quite tired and since my insomnia has been bad for the past couple of weeks I'm going to take advantage of this and hope that I fall asleep and stay that way for awhile.  Have a good one!