Day 8 – Magic Kingdom . . . The Perfect Surprise

(editor’s note: This post was ready to be posted yesterday–the actual day of visiting the Magic Kingdom. However, the …person who’s internet we’re “using” has somehow managed to prevent our computers from accessing any wireless internet options at the house. At least that’s what I’m believing. My computer will not connect at the house any more. So, we’re sitting in Mickey D’s right now, and this post is a day late.) 

I woke up before my alarm went off this morning (so before 0600). I just couldn’t sleep knowing what was ahead of us today. I got ready quickly, then cut Du’s hair (that duty doesn’t go on vacation), then woke Reagan and Ashlyn up at 0700. Reagan asked why we had to get up so early and I told a little white one. Actually it was true, just not the complete truth. I told her we were meeting some old friends of ours and it was going to take a while to get there. To soften things up I showed her a Disney dress that I bought at the Disney store before we left (she was with me when I bought it…that’s a whole new story of deception). I just happened to find it in my suitcase after doing laundry. It would be a great dress to wear to meet our friends. It had a little picture of Aurora on the belt buckle so she was game.

On the way to the park I mentioned that I was going to play around with the video camera to get better at shooting. So I did and Reagan obliged by being silly with Ashlyn. Then I pulled the surprise. Instead of me typing it all out watch the following:

Reagan’s Birthday Surprise from Vicki Diesing on Vimeo.

Can you hear the unsteadiness in my voice? I was tearing up the whole time. It was so sweet to see her surprise and genuine happiness.  I love her.

The whole day was good. We rode rides, waited in line, saw characters and had them sign the autograph book, watched two parades and a fireworks show. Ashlyn was even able to ride some rides. To break it up in the middle we had lunch with some friends of ours from New Mexico. Ron was my boss at the Flickinger Center. He, his wife–Pat, their daughter–Marisa, and her son–Aidan all came to meet us. They live in Florida now and are only an hour and a half away. Lucky them. We had a nice visit and a good chat.

GeisheimersThe New Mexico gang, plus a few new ones.

 The girls were so good the whole day, even Ashlyn. She was busy, but never got fussy or upset because she was contained in the stroller or being held by us. Reagan walked the whole day and never asked to be carried…until the fireworks started and she wanted to be up higher to see them.

Reagan kept saying: “Is this real? Am I dreaming?” It’s not a dream, sweetie. But you keep dreaming and they may come true.

R & the castle R with her autograph book.

A & castle A excited to be in the sunshine. (These pics did not upload…I’m working on it.)

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Day 6 – Holy Land Experience (and Happy Birthday to me)

Yet another surprise for Reagan this morning. She still believes that we’re leaving the house in the morning to “go exploring”. Oh, the innocence of a child. Jeeves (our nav system with a male British voice…and yes, we brought him on the trip with us. No need for our marriage to end on vacation is there?) led us right to the Holy Land Experience. I found out about it doing research for our trip. I’ve seen no signs for it, no advertisements for it in all the local ad mags, but it’s a GREAT place to visit.

us at Holy Land Exp

The whole park is set up like the Holy Land centuries ago. From Moses to Jesus we saw the wilderness tabernacle, Herod’s Temple, market places, Golgotha and the Tomb. There are live plays and re-enactments, videos, stories for kids, artifacts, etc. It’s like you’ve stepped back in time to the Jerusalem (and surrounding areas) of Jesus’ time…except with all the 21st century conveniences like Doritos, sweet tea, flavored coffee (do you think Jesus would have needed caffeine?) and stores that take credit cards. I saw one thing today that reminded me of Leigh Anne. It was a little plaque that read “Shalom Y’all” (and they spelled y’all correctly). We Southerners can embrace our Jewishness, even if we’re only Jews by association from “Father Abraham.”

As soon as we walked in ladies from the open-air market started talking to Reagan and Ashlyn. Reagan was wearing a purple jacket and so they asked her if she was a princess because purple was the color of royalty. How cute. And they remembered both of their names too. As we were getting ready to leave the park hours later Layla called: “hello again Princess Reagan!”

Layla & R

We watched a play/re-enactment of the months after Moses’ birth when his parents had to make the heart-wrenching decision to “send him down the river” (my words not theirs or the Bible’s). When you read it in the Bible the emotion and danger just aren’t felt. In a re-enactment though you begin to understand how scared they must have been—soldiers were actively looking for male Hebrew babies. And for Moses’ mother to have to make the basket that she would place him in and pray and hope that God would come through to save her baby. And the awesomeness that Pharoah’s daughter found him and used his own mother as the nurse maid. It came alive and made it more real.

We then saw a re-enactment of Jesus talking to the public. It was a conglomeration of a couple different stories about Him and the parables that He told. To visually see Jesus (someone who looked very similar to what we’ve made Him to look like) doing miracles, calling people to him, saying powerful words. It was awesome. At one point he called all the children to him. No one in the audience realized what he was doing until one kid went up, then we all sent up our children. When the skit was over Reagan came back to us and said, “did you see Jesus touch me?” We had to make sure she realized this wasn’t the real Jesus. Of course she did, we’re not dealing with a dummy (unless it comes to “exploring the area”).

We saw an explanation and a lifesize replica of the tabernacle. Reagan and I just finished studying Solomon’s Temple in school (and had studied the tabernacle earlier this year) so this was neat to be able to bring everything full circle.

The neatest part for me, and I think Du would agree, was the walk through tour of the Scriptorium. It was a 55 minute tour that led us through various rooms in a building that houses the largest privately owned Scripture artifacts in the world (or something to that effect). AWESOME, awesome, awesome to see everything from cuniform fragments from ancient Mesopotamia, to a page from the first Gutenberg Bible off his press, to a Bible with blood on it from some poor chap in England that died for his reformist beliefs, to various language translations. Worth the admission price in and of itself.

Then we got to see the largest indoor scaled model of Jerusalem and were planning on getting a talk about the different areas of the city. But what we got was this:

Uh. Yeah. We didn’t stay for the talk.

NOW, after we got our fill of the Holy Land we turned to the consumerism of the West and headed on over to the mall! And what a great mall it is. We walked in and I felt like I was at home (shame on me for not feeling at home in Jerusalem, right?). Du’s so patient when we enter a mall, especially now that he’s got two girls that like to shop (it was, in fact, Reagan that saw the mall and said, “ooh, let’s go there, I want to look around.” And this was before we hit the Holy Land. We had to convince her that there were probably other things to “explore” in that area other than a mall.) So, Du is patient, and it’s a good thing. I got a lot of my pent up shopping needs out tonight.

Our first store: Bloomingdale’s. We walk in and the smell of all the perfumes is almost overwhelming. I said almost. I was so happy to be in a mall (and Bloomingdale’s at that) that I actually enjoyed the overpowering aroma. A couple of deep breaths and I was ready. I was also transported back to the Bloomingdale’s in NYC (a trip with Heather to celebrate my 30th birthday), in which I bought two pair of shoes that I still love. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? (Sit down if you love bargains.)

An awesome pair of Miss Sixty shoes that were originally $145 that I got for $17.99…$19.16 with tax.

shoesphoto courtesy of Reagan.

I KNOW!! And the deals didn’t stop there. I made my way to Ann Taylor Loft where the sale racks were speaking to me. They were saying: buy one pair of pants, get the second pair half off. OK. I must listen and obey. And since Du had just finished telling me he wanted to get my birthday present here since our current hometown is somewhat lacking in the shopping department, I had to comply, right?

I tried on two pair of pants, went back to the rack to replace them until Du could get back (Reagan needed to potty and they both needed dessert), when what should I spy? A pair of jeans for $3.88, normally $54. That’s three hundred and eighty-eight pennies! I took them to the sales clerk and asked her if this was the correct price, and if so, what was wrong with them. Yes, it’s the correct price. No, nothing wrong with them. They just have to get them off the rack to make way for newer items (none of the other jeans on the rack were that price btw). Tried them on too (I would have bought them even if they didn’t fit and sold them on ebay or something), but those didn’t leave my hot little hands. Once Du came back I showed him my awesome deal and explained to him how it was all going to go down.

Remember the BOGO deal on the pants? I wasn’t going to waste that second pair at half off deal on the $3.88 jeans. So, he bought the first two pants I looked at. I bought the $3.88 jeans and a top.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Oh, I also looked in Betsey Johnson (who is finally producing clothes that aren’t butt ugly…sorry Betsey), but no deals to be found there. The dress I liked was $330. And it looked like something I could whip up with enough time.

While Reagan and I were shopping in the Hello Kitty store Du decided to let Ashlyn release some of her pent up energy. There’s a tall ledge underneath the escalator with potted plants and imbedded lights. Du puts Ashlyn up there, somehow thinking this would be ok. It was her stage. She proceeds to crawl arround the whole area weaving in between potted plants and stopping on the imbedded lights (were they warm? Did she want to blind herself? No one knows what that brain is thinking). Another set of kids starts to climb up there and the father tells them to get down. Du then realizes this isn’t the best model for other kids to follow so he tries to get Ashlyn down. “Ashlyn, come here.” This starts the chase. He reaches for her and pulls her to him. As soon as he lets go to get a better grip, she crawls away. And this time she’s crawling faster than ever before. She zooms between two pots and is peeking around at him to make sure she’s out of his reach. He ends up having to crawl up there himself to get her down. Oh, and she shoved her sister during dessert when Du fed Reagan a bite of ice cream that Ashlyn wanted. She watched the spoon go from the cone, over her head, right into Reagan’s mouth. I wonder if it was in slow motion for her.

Ahh yes, food. Not as exciting today. We didn’t step back in time with lunch, fortunately. Chicken salad on a croissant with a side of veggies and sweet tea for me. I’m sure Jesus would have enjoyed that if it were available during His time. For dinner…Chick Fil-A. Now, we could not claim to be Southern if we did not eat at Chick Fil-A once on vacation since we are starved of it in the midwest. And it was so good. And fast food is all the time I could allow for…’eating time’ cuts into ‘shopping time’.

Now, to say goodnight. Remember, I’m out on the patio because we don’t get internet inside. It’s actually cold tonight. Du’s trying to shut the glass doors and close me out. The only reason he can’t is because my computer cord would get squashed. One last picture to let you know how this trip has been on our bodies…well, Reagan’s feet at least:

feetThose are two of the grossest feet I’ve seen in my life. But I love ’em.

Day 4 – Launch of Atlantis

We woke up with a 70% chance that the shuttle WOULD NOT launch. They did fill the tanks with fuel and continue with the necessary preparations, but the weather wasn’t looking very promising. We kept our hopes up, did our research, found out where the best viewing was in Titusville, and headed out that way.

There’s a Space View Park on the edge of the water in Titusville. Directly to our east we could see the Vehicle Assembly Building and both launch pads. NASA had a tent and sound system set up so we were able to get updates and listen to NASA speak between Kennedy, Houston and the shuttle.

For a while the weather was looking better. The chance of launch even went from 30% to 40% probability. However, at about 45 minutes out NASA was calling it a no go. A storm had come in from somewhere and was too close to the launch pad. Nobody moved though. There were about a thousand people in that little park and we were all waiting, holding our collective breath.

Meanwhile we made friends with the couple behind us. They went and got two of their beach towels out of their car for us to sit on, as we only had our raincoats, which Du had to convince me to bring from the car. Sometimes (ok, most of the time) he does have great ideas. We were so unprepared for this. My defense is that we flew here and would not have been able to fit one more thing in that rental car. Each time we pack it up we play how many clowns can fit in the VW Bug. No binoculars, no chairs for comfortable waiting. But we made do with new friends and their goods.

The girls did so well to wait for as long as we did. We waited over three hours. THREE PLUS hours. Reagan colored almost the whole time. Ashlyn tried to crawl away the whole time. We did remember our penchant for food and brought along some snacks. NASA also guessed our penchant for food and offered water and ice cream for sale.

After the 45min away scrub, somehow (it’s God y’all) the weather got better and the launch was back on. It was called a go by all parties involved and even more people began to stream into that little park. We got everyone in position. Ashlyn went into her stroller, Reagan went on Du’s back and I took control of the video camera.

When they “started up” the shuttle there was a rumble in the crowd (not from the noise of the shuttle, that would come 45 seconds after lift off). It was so awesome to see all that smoke billow from over 7 miles away. The countdown went so quickly and the lift off just happened. No slow motion, no warning to get ready to pay really good attention and try to remember everything you see. But it happened and it was spectacular. The shuttle shot up and was in the clouds within two minutes. We could barely see a faint dot when the solid rocket boosters disengaged. It was all so breathtaking. Everyone clapped and cheered.

All I could think about was that these people were in space. They were just seven miles away and then they were rocketing towards the space station at about 11,000 miles per hour. They are in space looking down on the glorious earth. How awesome is our God that He would give us minds to be able to understand math and science to such a degree that we could send humans beyond the grip of earth’s gravity safely. And how awesome is He that the day I planned on us being in the Cocoa Beach area is the day this shuttle actually launched. It was scheduled for a December launch. God cares about everything from the profoundly immense to the profoundly minute.

shuttle launchDu got a great picture of the launch. My videoing skills aren’t shown off in the video below, but I didn’t want to watch through a lens…so I quit after a couple seconds. What I did get is awesome though. Be patient while it loads.

NOW ON TO PART TWO

I’m able to come to grips with the two hotels that we stayed at for the last three nights. It’s all a distant memory now that I’ve seen what we’ll be staying in for the rest of our trip. We’re in Orlando now and I booked us a 3-bedroom condo for $79 a night (I know!). They upgraded us to a 4-bedroom house…with a pool…and a jacuzzi. $79 a night!!!! There are many reasons why I highly recommend traveling during the low season and this is one of them (another one is low crowd levels, which is great when you don’t care for other people’s kids). I’ll take pictures of it tomorrow and maybe will post some of them.

Ashlyn was in rare form tonight for dinner. Well, it’s not rare form for her. The other people in the restaurant sure weren’t impressed. It was par for the course for the whole dinner though. We stopped at a place called T-Bones. The name T-Bones was all aflame on the sign and it mentioned seafood, steaks and pasta. I thought we’d be stopping at some national chain decorated with attitude and offering really yummy chain food.  We walked into the restaurant and it was one of those local restaurants that have grown beyond their walls and haven’t cared to redecorate since they opened. Their menu was extensive and therefor I knew that most things on there were frozen the day before coming in on the Cisco truck. However, I was not about to be all uppity with a baby acting the way Ashlyn did. For appetizers we had fried green tomatoes, fried pickles and mozzarella sticks. I had Steak Diane for dinner–steak medallions covered in a brown sauce with mushrooms. Very close to German Jagershnitzel. It was good enough. Not droolingly mouthwatering like previous meals. Ashlyn was just fussy the whole time. I’ve come to realize that I no longer enjoy dining out. I can’t enjoy my meals because I’m constantly feeding Ashlyn, holding her drink so she doesn’t chuck it, picking up food that she’s chucked on the floor, trying to get her to quiet down when, God forbid, I wait two seconds instead of one, to get another piece of food in her mouth. Can mental illness be diagnosed in a baby?

I’m sitting out on our deck writing this post. The house doesn’t come with wireless internet (it’s only downside that I’ve found so far) and so I’m poaching some unsuspecting Orlandonite’s internet service. Goodnight!

Day 3 – Spaced Out

Thank you, Du, for again diming me out in the comment section of the previous post. 

Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast! The day can begin!

We left St. Augustine and headed down to Titusville to visit the Kennedy Space Center.

Vehicle Assembly BuildingHere is the Vehicle Assembly Building from the bridge going to Merritt Island and the KSC.

Do not believe NASA when they say they are running out of money for the space program. We know for a fact that they make enough money in one day from the KSC Visitor Center to fund a shuttle launch a month. We funded one whole mission ourselves. Check this out:

  • Entrance Fee – $110.24 – (Yes, that’s right. Who do they think they are? Disney World?)
  • Freeze dried ice cream – $12.69 – (The main reason Reagan was excited to come here. And this was for only three packs that weighed about half an ounce total.)
  • Lunch – $31.74 – (two bbq pork sandwiches, a hot dog, apple juice and two cokes)
  • Souvenirs – $27.89 – (2 pins, a patch, a magnet and a post card)
  • Something or another should be priceless right here, but apparently everything has a price, and a high one at KSC.

Space IcecreamA new product: Space Ice Cream Cookie. Freeze dried and everything.

While we were paying NASA’s bills we had a lot of fun. I did the Shuttle Launch Experience (only for people above 48″ so Du took the girls to see a full-size model of a shuttle). I got to feel what the astronauts feel as they are blasted off the surface of the earth. All I can say is awesome and sign me up.

We sat through this horribly cheesy performance that tried to make the laws of science fun. The two girls on stage were trying to dance and sing about Newton’s three laws of motion. The 3D was even bad. I ended up laughing at them instead of with them. I tried to make it sound like I was laughing at appropriate moments in their act, but that was hard. Then we sat through a really cool IMAX movie about landing on the moon. Tom Hanks narrated it and it was in real 3-D. Ashlyn tried to pull the Mystery Science Theater 3000 thing again but soon fell asleep in my arms.

One of the coolest parts was sitting through a NASA briefing on the launch tomorrow. I felt like part of the press corps and almost started shouting out questions: “Can you explain the reason why we’re funding your mission with our entrance fee and we can’t even get up close an personal with the shuttle?” “When are you going to allow a homeschooling mom to take a ride?” “Is there any truth behind the adult diapers rumor?” Oh. Wait. Did I say that out loud? We got out of it what you normally get out of a briefing…not much of anything. There’s a large chance the launch will be scrubbed tomorrow, but he gave us hope by saying that he thinks it will still be a go. We’ll hang onto whatever we can get.

Ok, is it just us? Does everyone else stay in classy places like us when they use Priceline? While checking us in the hotel clerk gave me a map of the hotel complex and began diagramming where we were to drive, park, walk up our luggage. What? Walk up the luggage? I asked: “Where’s the elevator?” He replied: “We don’t have an elevator, but there are only 12 steps so it shouldn’t be bad. I can’t move you down to the first floor, we’re full because of the launch tomorrow.” Uh, ok. Do you offer bell hop services?

Dinner tonight was at “World Famous” Dixie Crossroads. You’ve heard of it, right? The wait was about 30 minutes and our expectations were high. There was a cool place to wait outside the restaurant: a wooden deck with a pond below where you could pay to feed the pet fish…I hope they were pet fish. We didn’t feed the fish. I had the “Extra-Special Treat” and it was worth every penny of the close to $2 per shrimp it cost. Here’s the write up:

Try our large Wild Ocean Shrimp, hand breaded, rolled in shredded coconut, fried golden brown and served with sweet plum and orange marmalade dipping sauces; or filled with Maryland-style crabmeat stuffing; or wrapped in hickory-smoked bacon.

The Extra-Special Treat had four of each. YUMMO! (as Rachel Ray would say, and I’ll never say that again). Du had a combo of scallops, rock shrimp and a crab cake. His was delish too. H.o.w.e.v.e.r. . . we could barely make it out of the restaurant. We felt like foundering horses we had stuffed ourselves so full.  Ashlyn somewhat behaved herself and was oddly picky about what she wanted to eat. For some reason (maybe because she gets half her genes from me) she only wanted the appetizer of sweet corn fritters that were covered in mounds of powdered sugar.

Oh yeah, we were having lunch and discussing the amusing folly that was the Mad Science Theater (the cheesy show about the laws of science). Reagan got to hold one of the planets during that segment and she was trying to remember which one. She knew it was the second to last one, because there was only one boy in the audience behind her that got to hold a planet. She was asking, “is it Pluto? What was it? Neptune? Mom, which was it?” Du steps in here to offer his assistance, and this is usually put to the form of more questions for Reagan to figure out the answer on her own. He asked, “What’s the name of Ariel’s Father?” thinking the answer to be, and fully expecting “Neptune.” Without missing a beat Reagan yells out, “Triton!” Nice try honey, I almost spit my food all over you again.

One Year Ago

One year ago I was wondering just how pregnant I’d have to be before giving birth. Ashlyn had two due dates: 25 Jan and 04 Feb. The more accurate date, the date the doctors and midwives were using, was 04 Feb. I was measuring large for my pregnancy early on so we had an ultrasound done to measure the baby and try to guess its gestational age. That brought about the 25 January due date, which the medical staff never went by. I hoped for a February birth since we have many family members with Feb. birthdates. And knowing that Reagan came a day late I was pretty sure this would happen. However, once a woman gets so pregnant she doesn’t care when the baby comes, she just wants it out.

So, as 25 January came and went I wondered how long I’d have to wait. But, as her personality has proven to us over this past year, Ashlyn has a mind of her own. She decided to be born on 31 January. Thanks to lots of prayer, to a gracious God for answering those prayers, and to a good friend who gave me yoga breathing tips, I was able to labor at home and sleep in between contractions.

Yes, I was able to sleep in between my contractions. With my first pregnancy I went into labor the day after Reagan was due. The labor lasted forever. The contractions didn’t seem to do anything to help. So that’s what I assumed would happen this time as well. Now we all know what assuming does, and we all know pregnancies are rarely the same. But, when you’re pregnant half your brain is turned off. I had an appointment on Tuesday, Jan. 30, and I was 0cm dilated. I had called my mom that morning though and told her to go ahead and start the drive out here. She drove all day and got here around 9pm that night. And it’s a good thing.

I was having contractions, but they were few and far between. And thinking they would get me nowhere (like before), I decided that I would probably be contracting and in pain for days. So I went to bed. I had been praying throughout the pregnancy that God would allow me to labor mostly at home. I hated laboring in the hospital the first time. And He granted my request. Using those breathing techniques, thinking the contractions weren’t doing anything, and being very sleepy allowed me to sleep between the contractions.

I’ll spare you the gory details (things that only other mothers want to hear when it’s “war story” time–usually at baby showers). We got to the hospital at 0530 and Ashlyn was born at 0555 on 31 January 2007.

Happy Birthday Ashlyn!Ashlyn Born Ashlyn at one year

Bronchiolitis, ear infections, nebulizers, OH MY!!!

Being the kind of mom that I am, I don’t take my kids to the doctor unless there’s a really good reason. Partly because that’s what my mom used to do and I think it’s the right thing to do. Partly because we see the military pediatrician. I’d rather get teeth pulled than to have to go through the steps required to make an appointment to see the ped. (For those of you in favor of universal health care talk to anyone in the armed services about the military system and you’ll end up thinking differently. We have socialized medicine now and it isn’t all the glory that it’s touted to be.)

Well, Ashlyn’s had a cough and runny nose, on and off, since Christmas. We hear a little rattling every now and then in her chest. Sometimes she coughs so much and so hard that she gags. I guess it was time to take her, no matter how painful it would be to schedule the appointment. (In defense of myself, her appetite, sleep and attitude haven’t been affected, so it’s not like she’s laying around gagging, gasping for air).

It turns out that poor baby has bronchiolitis, a double ear infection, and possibly a sinus infection. OMG!!! When did this happen? She hasn’t been pulling on her ears at all so that diagnosis came out of left field. The bronchiolitis was explained this way: the cold that was in her nose when down to her chest and is constricting her airways. The cold that is still in her nose could either be viral or bacterial and thus a sinus infection.

We left the ped. clinic with four different medicines and a nebulizer. Now, for someone who doesn’t even like to administer ibuprofin or acetomenafin unless there’s serious pain, this is going to be difficult for me. I have to give her meds so many different times throughout the day, with so many varying lengths between doses. And the nebulizer, I’m dreading attempting that. I have a hard time remembering when she got up from a nap to know when she should be getting ready to go down for another one. This will take a serious spreadsheet schematic type thing so I don’t end up under or overdosing her.

One good thing I’m finding in all this mess: at least we’re taking care of this before our Disney trip! She should be good to go for that nice Florida weather, which will be a nice change from the Siberian temps we’ve been weathering here.