Sunday, June 22, 2014

It All Started With A Car…..

     We just had a really fun albeit crazy 48 hours. I'm gonna try and tell the story with pictures…

It all started with a car. The Doc has been desperate for a new car. He's been car shopping for a while now but hadn't found what he was looking for. His aunt in Indiana had an awesome, almost new one she offered to The Doc if we would come get it. We took the offer. We formulated a plan that would disrupt life the least…. and as it just so happened…..Julie, Jon and Wubba moved back to Florida AND in with us this past week. That story in itself is BEYOND exciting so we welcomed them on Wednesday and The Doc and I flew out….to go get the car….on Friday….. at 4am, leaving the girls with Wubba and his parents. Here's the story.
After getting up and leaving at 4am…..we got to the airport to discover they had not staffed the flight. In other words….there was no pilot. So they cancelled our flight to Chicago…..and our second flight into Ft. Wayne. No bueno. We had 2 days to get to Indiana and back with the new car.  Two days. That was it. There's this thing called work that interferes with and can mess up travel plans. We had to get there. After much finagling with United ….and hearing "there is no other flight available" we wheeled and dealed and were booked on a US Air flight to Philly. Yes, Philadelphia. Have I mentioned that I hate to fly? There's something about placing yourself in a toothpaste tube and hurling it at 600 mph through the atmosphere that doesn't sit well with me. Philly it was. I shut my eyes and got on the plane. 

Once in Philly we had 4 hours of nothingness. Four hours of killing time until our next flight that would take us on to Indianapolis. Nothing to do for us is complete and utter torture. We decided to go exploring and use those 4 hours to our advantage. We found the way the locals travel and made our way to the local train looking completely like the "out of towners' we were, and made our way into the city center 30 min away by train…..dragging our suitcases with us. 

Normally before we travel we do our homework and actually learn about the public transportation in that city….mapping out the routes and our plans. Not so this time. We were totally flying by the seat of our pants as we traveled the inner city's network of subway routes and train lines. Dirty and grimy? Yes….but the way to see and experience the heartbeat of places you visit. We are adventurers at heart…even when plans go awry. That's the Doc….dragging our suitcases so I could take pics…….and soak up local color. Smile.

We walked a gazillion blocks to Independence Hall…..home of Ben Franklin and his buddies. We stopped by to say hey and payed our respects to the Liberty Bell. Go USA!

We walked about 5 miles total…. the city of brotherly love (we experienced the brotherhood….that's for sure!) mixing with the locals and soaking in the flavor of this vibrant city. 

Back through the tunnels, up the stairs, on the train, through security and on another plane (even smaller than the first which was oh so joyful!)……we were now set to fly two more hours to Indianapolis…..where the car was NOT. The car was 2 hours away from there once we landed. Now we had to figure out how to get to Ft. Wayne to get the car and try and get home on schedule. Have I mentioned I hate to fly? 

Once we landed in Indy….and were still contemplating our dilemma… phone started to go nuts. Apparently we were missed at home. Heh.

We walked out of the Indianapolis airport to find our cousin Cathy waiting for us. She's pretty much our favorite person ever! Remember just this same morning we were set to fly into Ft. Wayne….2+ hours north of Indy. She changed her plans and came to get us……and take us to the car. Which was now parked at a McDonalds….north of the city somewhere. How did it get there….. 2 hours south of it's intended delivery place?

While we were in the air…..they had gotten another cousin to drive it from Ft. Wayne to Indy……just to save us time. It was sitting in a McDonalds parking lot….just waiting for us……WITH homemade snacks and drinks packed on ice from Aunt Carol……who was still in Ft. Wayne. We love these people!
We said our thank you's and goodbyes….threw those same suitcases in the now new car….and took off south…..through the farm rich country of southern Indiana, Eastern Ohio, and
we watched the sunset over the beautiful hills of Kentucky… the clouds descended into the valleys for the night. We stopped and spent the night near the University of Kentucky. I hear they like their basketball there :) …..and horses….lots of horses. End of day one. 

Day two. We had to be home today BUT I mentioned to The Doc… long as we are driving through Tennessee ( I ADORE Tennessee….would live there all the live long day!) I BEGGED to go see the mountains and hug a tree. My words. I needed my mountain fix up close and personal…..not just a wave from a distance. He obliged cause he could and we didn't have the littles with us to slow things down. Off we went east in search of new adventures. We found Pigeon Forge (not impressed….sorry Dolly! Way to commercial for our taste) and hit the Smoky Mountains National Forest. Now we were getting somewhere.

The Doc even obliged when I shouted, "STOP! Pull over!" and we hiked down to the river…..across the rocks to the middle and took pics of our feet by the rapids and waterfalls. Can't you smell the clear mountain air and hear the rushing water? Bliss. I cried. Oh, and it was in the low 70's. I had to wear a sweater. (OH MY GOSH!! IT"S JUNE!!!!)

So….by now The Doc had mountain fever too…..and was no longer thinking about getting back to Florida pronto. He was sucked right along with me into the beauty and majesty of God's creation…..and these mountains. We decided to hike to the top of Clingman's Dome….the highest peak in this part of the Smokies. Yep. We did.

.5 miles straight up I might add….we reached the top of Clingman's Dome…..breathtaking.

You should totally go here. It's a circular path to an observatory…..AFTER you have hiked the mileage up the mountain. Totally worth it….totally will kill your quads!

The other thing I hate worse than flying is heights. I did this though. God's creation is simply astounding.

Part of the Appy Trail runs through this section of the Smokies. This is on our bucket list to do one day…..hike at least a good section of the trail….spending the nights along the way in designated shelters. Gonna have to get to work on this one.

We did a tiny section of the trail this time. We are hooked. We will be back! After heading back down the mountain….buying souvenirs for the girls and riding out a rainstorm….we headed into Cherokee, NC. I cannot believe I didn't take pics of this….but I didn't. We looked up the Doc's college roommate who just happens to run "The Heavenly Fudge Shoppe" in downtown Cherokee…..and after a brief visit we started back on our way with armfuls of fudge. Mmmmmmmm.

Only to make one more very important stop. The 4th of July is coming up you know…..and if there's one thing the men in this family love is their pyro. We were loaded…..and praying no one hit us on the way home with the truckload of fireworks we got. 

Now we knew….as the sun was going down on day two and we were still deep in mountain country. We had to get home….the Doc had to work. We had promises to keep and family to get home to. We drove well into the night…..until 3:30 am in fact and completed our trip to Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida… exactly 48 hours. Now….time to get back to work…..until the next adventure!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mei Mei Turns 9!

     Well, it was only a week ago and this blogging mom can't seem to stay on top of the blogworld. Mei Mei is officially 9 and we celebrated twice! She had a big blowout party with all her school friends at out local Science Center before school was out. We've learned that with a summer birthday (she's our only one 'cept for the dog and The Doc) you have to do a party party before school lets out otherwise folks go out of town and you end up with no one at your party. Trust us on this one.
     Anyway…..her actual DAY was this past week and she wanted DisneyWorld. We surprised her by taking her to the new BE OUR GUEST restaurant right smack inside the Beast's Castle at Magic Kingdom. Gotta say, I'm not a big fan of Disney fast food so when I heard that during the day Be Our Guest was open for counter service I was a little nervous. Shouldn't have been. Best food for lunch at Disney yet…..and so much fun! We ate in the West Wing complete with the encased rose that kept losing petals. Oh dear… out Beast!

     We then made our way through the stifling heat and massive crowds (we know how to handle that by now) and scampered over to Animal Kingdom. Despite torrential rain we had a blast and brought "9" in with a bang!
This is what 9 looks like at the Beast's Castle!

The Lion King live show at Animal Kingdom is hands down the best. The female lead is nicknamed "The Gift". To this day this is what my son in law calls me……every. time. Right he should too:)

Wet from the rain Mei Mei was finally tall enough to hang with the big girls on the roller coasters!

Nature Girl spent her own money and bought all 3 sisters BFF necklaces. I cried. Emotional moment for the Mom.

Inside the castle……making memories!

Head to toe Elsa.

Getting her birthday badge on Main Street, USA.

There's just something about Main Street at Magic Kingdom. It really is Magic!

Monday, June 9, 2014

This Little Bit

Her sister and Grandma gave her the same card. And note
she won't be giving up her blankie. Nope….it's glued
to her side.
This little bit of a girl is in her last 2 days of being eight and I'm sad. This past Sunday was promotion day for kids church and as I marched her into the 4th grade class I felt a twinge of 'Whoa!' where did the time go??

Then she did it. She messed with my head big time. Every June I 'pretend' in my head we are moving (we aren't…. just pretend with me) and we PURGE every item in our house I wouldn't want to take with us if we weren't pretend moving. I'm a big proponent of not hoarding and not keeping what you don't need. I could go off on my "This is America and we have way too much stuff….' bandwagon but I'll save that for the moment because this happened…..

Mei Mei took me into her room and with a giant arm sweep told me to "get rid of all the baby toys and little kid stuff." It is happening. My youngest is now entering the pre-teen years and putting aside all those baby dolls, Polly Pockets,
and memories. It's a milestone around here. Bittersweet. Needs to happen. Y'all pray for me as I clean out her room. It's gonna be hard.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lemonade, Lemonade! It's Summer!

     The littles have been after me to do a lemonade stand for some time. I've put it off because I'm always wary of creepy people and if I couldn't monitor their every move I didn't want them doing it. Today was the perfect time…..after all it's summer! With all their goods in tow (including 'donated' ahem…cough, cough lemonade) the ladies and Cade (He's been staying with the Princess Collection this week…..cause it's summer and he can),  set out to make their fortune…..from lemonade. They did remarkably well in the hot Florida sun and kept at it for HOURS! A huge boost to our day was when our favorite twins drove up and surprised the heck out of our little entrepreneurs. They had happened to see a pic I had posted to FB and 'happened' (yes, really) to be in the neighborhood. Awesome friends….they are the best!

     Our little people were anything but shy about advertising their goods and to be honest….I was a little worried. We live in a gated community that's not super large ……and we are the loud house. Most  parents in the hood work full time and it's a really quiet place. However, my worries were in vain. These little sales people had a constant stream of customers all day and well…..according to what we were expecting made out right well. Even the UPS man stopped by TWICE to get a fill up. Hearing the kids navigate Spanish with some yard workers was quite funny. They did it and hats off to those guys for coming to buy from our crew! I'm getting nothing on my list done this summer but we sure are having fun!!

Mei Mei's face when she realized they had topped the $15 mark halfway through the day. Of course my friend Nikki may have had something to do with that:)

Mom Jo stopped by during her errand running to have a cold drink.

Mel, Caro and Mollie came to our fine establishment. They were happy to see Cade since he defected earlier in the week.

I can't even.

We're cute! Buy our stuff!!

The grand total? They made $28! That's $7 each for our little salespeople. Quite a productive day in the hood!

We'll be shopping tomorrow. She's an instant gratification kind of girl!