Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

I loved this book. I LOVED this book and it's now in my Top #10 list. This book was such a departure from the Ray Bradbury I know. This was sentimental and so beautifully written, capturing the essence of summer 1928. But the truth is, every chapter, all the details, reminded me of my own summers growing up in Michigan. Each chapter was almost its own short story. And it made me think about my own neighborhood, or my own circle of friends...what is going on, what chapter could be written about each of them? Reading the book I was heartbroken, encouraged, sad, filled with hope, was intense and, again, beautiful.

I read Danelion Wine for book club, and the word that kept going through my mind was magical and romantic. Filled with imagry and this theme of life and death, I was constantly reflecting on my own life and how I choose to live it. Am I experiencing life? Am I soaking in all it has to offer? Am I learning from others' experiences? Am I living?

I could read this book annually. It was so well-written.

Magic Kingdom (Friday)

We decided for our last day we'd go back to Magic Kingdom and run wild and hit all the rides we could. It was such a great day.

Don't let this smile fool you. Micah was terrified of the carousal. It took us everything we had just to get him to go on and then sit down. Ride a horse? No way! I was surprised when he gave me this smile before we began to go in circles because only moments before he was a mess.

We saw a few shows....

Then we met up with the rest of the family at the Polynesian for breakfast. It's a good family-style breakfast with characters, etc. We did this same breakfast when we went last time and it was fun, so why not do it again this trip? However, where we were sitting, it seemed we didn't get many good pictures...the lights messed things up. But it was still good.


After breakfast we went home for a little bit...during the heat of the day...and while Callie and Sammy swam with Marcus, and Micah eventually fell asleep, I worked on getting things figured out for our departure the next day. We had a little scare because apparently, Disney had me as having a flight to Miami, but no connecting flight back to California. So, after a bit of panic and some phone calls, we figured it out. I would be returning home with my family after all.

We went back to the Magic Kingdom and enjoyed the hot afternoon.

This is when we decided that Sammy should try her first rollercoaster. A new ride has appeared at Magic Kingdom since we were last here a few years ago. 

The Seven Dwarves Mine Ride.

Marcus kept talking about letting Sammy go on Space Mountain and crazy rides (I think he was only 1/2 kidding). Yes, she's tall enough. Yes, she loves thrills. But any kind of rollercoaster seemed scary for me to let her on. This ride, however, seemed a little more manageable. So, we tried it. 

And she loved it!

Later that afternoon, storms started rolling in. There was rain, and people started to clear out. It was our last day, so we weren't going anywhere. We ate lunch and by that time, things kind of cleared up...but then the lightning came. So, rides shut down for a bit. And even more people cleared out. We held out and when Splash Mountain opened up, we were among the first to ride with no lines!

With the 7 Dwarves ride a success, we thought we'd have Sammy ride Splash Mountain as well. And she LOVED it!!!

Ted and his family hung out until late with us. We saw the Electric Parade, which was awesome. There was still some thunder, and that kind of freaked out Callie and Micah, but it was fun. Callie's face is blurry, but she was impressed with the parade, to say the least.

 And Sammy was impressed as well. She kept smiling and giggling as the floats and characters and dancers came by.

We decided to stay for the fireworks. And this is when we had a huge, scary moment...

As we were leaving the parade and moving down toward Cinderella's castle, there were quite a few people moving along. Callie was walking with Aunt Peggy, and I told Callie to stick with her. There were a lot of people. We got to where we needed to be and stopped. A few moments later, I wanted to show Callie something and said, "Callie, come here, check this out." 

No response.

No response.


She was gone. We couldn't find her. I began to slightly panic. Peggy and Marcus left the group and started looking around. I went out in the middle of the road, which was actually kind of bare, just in case Callie looked and found us. A conversation that my parents and I had previously that day about Adam Walsh and his son went through my mind. I got sick to my stomach with fear and began to pray. We hadn't come up with a plan of what to do if someone got lost. I prayed and prayed.  A few minutes later, Callie was back with Marcus. Relief is such a mild word to explain how I felt.

I talked to Callie and she said she had been really scared. I guess when we stopped, she just kept walking not realizing the group had found a spot to stay. She kept walking and didn't know what to do. She found a worker...and as the worker told Marcus...

"She was so calm and came right up to me and said, 'I can't find my family.'"

That worker also happened to be an intern with BYU-Idaho. 

Our prayers were definitely answered, and we were so proud of Callie knowing what to do and taking control of the situation even though she said she was really scared. It was the first time I've "lost my child" and it was a horrible feeling. I can't imagine what parents go through when they can't find their children after 20 minutes, then 30, then hours. I can't imagine.

After the fireworks, we left, saying our final farewell to Disney World.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Animal Kingdom (Thursday)

Our family loves Animal Kingdom. Don't get me wrong...the other parks in Disney World are amazing, incredible, full of fun. But there is something about the Animal Kingdom that we just adore. We are the family who, when we visit a city, will hit the zoo. So, maybe it all makes sense. Our kids love animals, we love them, and Animal Kingdom does not disappoint. 

Before we even got into the park, while we were waiting, Callie and her cousins found a lizard. Well, welcome to Animal Kingdom! It was a sign for a really good day.

Part of what makes Animal Kingdom great is the atmosphere. We love it. As you walk in, you are walking into a jungle. There are so many plants and feel like you've truly entered a different part of the world. And, what is also so great about it, is that you have immediate shade. It was a really hot day, surprise, and it felt so much cooler as soon as we walked in. 

By Thursday, the kids were tired and waiting was not as thrilling as it was before.

A Jungle Safari will always bring a smile.

And when in drums...

It was hot HOT. And we were waiting around for something...I can't remember what. Then there, on the "street" a band starts playing and this woman starts dancing. I go over with the kids and start to watch and dance along. Then, I took it one step further and started dancing with her. I brought Sammy up and we were dancing together. Other people were there and joined in too. It took a while to convince Callie to join, but she did. And so did her cousins. I stepped out because it was getting kind of crowded and it was hard to dance along with Sammy and so many people. But it gave me the chance to get some pictures. Callie was so serious trying to follow and get all the moves right. 

Animal Kingdom has some pretty incredible shows. We were advised that the Finding Nemo show was the best in Disney World. We checked it out, and it was pretty impressive. Our entire group was into it.

Sammy's feet. It breaks my heart. Sammy had a really hard time on this trip with her feet, mainly because she would get overheated. Assuming you don't wear orthotics, let me break this down for you. Imagine this.
You put your socks on.
Then your feet are pushed down into a plastic form.
That plastic wraps around your foot and heal, and goes up your leg.
Then another pair of socks is put over the brace, because if you're Samantha, you will take the brace off unless something is in the way -- like a sock.
Finally, your shoes.

It's really hot. She tried to wiggle out of them a lot, which left red pressure marks on her feet. We finally took her braces and socks off, and she was so much happier when we did.

We continued to learn, and relearn, that Micah's not a fan of rides.

Callie and Sammy, on the other hand, couldn't get enough.

It had been a long week so far, full of a lot of fun, and it was tiring. Micah figured out how to get some shut eye while we were out and about.

The highlight of Animal Kingdom, for me anyway, was The Lion King show. We already knew we liked the show, but this time, Callie, cousins, and Sammy got in on the show. Micah opted out. He wasn't too keen on the idea.

The entire time, Sammy was entranced by the performance. She was smiling and giggling the entire time. It was loud, and was everything she loves. When one of the performers came and asked if Sammy could join in, I said yes. He was trying to talk to her, and I briefly explained that she wouldn't be able to respond or follow maybe it's better if she just stayed with me. Then he said, "Well, can I just push her along in her chair?" My heart smiled as he took her and she just beamed with excitement. It truly was the best the entire trip.

So often, Sammy is the little kid or baby. The one who needs to be fed, pushed, carried, changed, spoken for...but at that moment, she was just one of the big kids. She knew it. And she loved it. Afterward, she looked at me, smiled and kept watching the show.

Another show. Animal Kingdom...lots of shows. And even though I can't see his face, I think this is such a cute picture of Micah.

To end the day, we ate at the Tuscan House in Africa. It was perfect for us. Buffet style, loud, good variety of food. We fit in well. AND, we met a few Disney stars.

As much as Daisy tried, Sammy just wasn't having it.

And this, this is just hilarious.

Animal Kingdom = success. Until next time...hopefully we'll make it back there again in the future.


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