a long & fascinating Epcot account

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We went to Epcot on March 31st, Rich’s birthday.   He had been looking forward to his Disney birthday for months.

For a breakfast treat, he wanted to get a coffee from Starbucks more than anything but had mistakingly passed by the one on our way to the park.  Imagine his joy when, as soon as we got through the main entrance, there it was!  A Starbucks right in Epcot.  We had the children sit outside while we stood in line to get our special coffees.

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Next stop was the “Club Cool” building for CocaCola, which has been a highlight since we first visited Epcot years ago.  If you lean in you can see the children walking in under the sign.  (I was standing outside Starbucks when I took the photo).

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They had free samples of their slushy sodas.  And then, the children taste tested all the soda “flavors from around the world”.  I tasted a couple of them, too.  Rich refused.  He was content with his coffee.

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Caleb

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Seth

Nothing like the feeling of lots of sugar first thing in the morning!

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Sarah and I were happy to split from the boys and go our own way.

There were flowers in bloom everywhere we looked.

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We bought jewelry made by this nice lady, which she crafted from things in nature.  For example, the red in my necklace is naturally dyed orange peel!  Sarah picked out earrings.  The interesting thing was the lady was originally from Connecticut and knew our hometown.  While we were there, we also bought a map (Sarah is holding it in the photo) with Easter Egg stickers to put on each spot after we found them in the park.  It became a fun highlight of our day.

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Here is the first one we found!  Do you see it?

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And then Mary Poppins walked right by us!

By the way, Sarah had no desire whatsoever to meet any of the Disney characters who walked about in Epcot or any other park.  She especially disliked the costumed animals like Chip n’ Dale, or Goofy, etc.  I would have liked to take her photo with a princess but “No” she shook her head and planted her feet into the ground.  I could understand so didn’t press it.

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I took a photo of the beautiful leather purses in “London”.

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On our way to “France” with the Eiffel tower behind us.

I was so heart-happy to have Sarah’s hand in mine on this day, always thankful that God gave us a second daughter.  I told her so, too.  It put a sweet smile on her face.

All of my children are a blessing and a joy.

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Each country had a lovely Topiary that I always pointed out thoughtfully to Sarah, who never seemed to be as impressed as I was.   She was too busy looking for the egg.

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There it is!

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flowers in France

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thought of Joanna……with the teapots….

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“Take a picture, mom!” said Sarah.  I called birds like these “Parasitic Birds” because they were just hanging around trying to steal food.

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Sarah was also given a fan to carry to each country for a stamp and a picture.  It was a nice little “time out” throughout the day as she stopped to color.

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This is the table in “Germany”, the girl is coloring on Sarah’s flag.  I had to take a photo because an old copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales was on the table and I’ve been reading it to Sarah.

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We ate in Germany and watched the little girl next to us throw chips to yet another “Parasitic bird” (a duck this time).

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Norway!  My favorite section of the park!

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It briefly rained.  Good thing I had ponchos in my purse (#1 Mom).   While standing in this line we made friends with the English family next to us.

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I met a Viking!

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We met back up with the boys after going on the Frozen ride.    Rich had gotten himself a birthday jacket from Norway and looked very handsome in it, too.  We headed to the Norwegian bakery for some treats.  I was told the Schoolhouse buns were the best so I bought one and enjoyed every single bite.  In fact, I want more than anything to find a recipe and make them myself here at home.

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Sarah’s Elsa cupcake was amazing.  It was so big she couldn’t finish it so I had to take a bite.  The cake was fluffy and homemade, there was chocolate filling and frosting, both wonderfully tasty.  Seth and David finished it up.

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Orchids, the way they should look.

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Another pretty flower.

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We went to go ride on the Nemo ride and visited the aquariums where David made friends with the fish.

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And people started to get silly.

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David now and David then.  Same exact spot in Epcot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I can’t stand it.

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Golden Hour in Epcot.

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David in his “nerd store” (his words) he loves anime and greatly enjoyed the Mitsukoshi Department Store in” Japan.”

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Sarah and I picked out some candy.  David got a shirt and a tea cup.  The shirt is a long story.  Months ago, I found him carefully cutting out a graphic and coloring it from a page he printed online.  He wanted to transfer it to a t-shirt but had to stop when he realized regular paper wouldn’t work, he needed transfer paper.  But then in Epcot he found the very shirt he had wanted to make.  Sadly, as soon as we got home, he was wearing it when he picked up his half-wild cat who got scared and scratched his way out of David’s arms, cutting a hole in his new shirt with his very sharp razor- like claws.  David said, “What about my arm?”  it was scratched and bleeding.  “Your arm will heal, but I’m the one who will have to mend your shirt, you’re special shirt you just bought in Disney!”  Thus, David has a unique shirt from Disney, already ripped and mended by yours truly (and I did the best I could but it wasn’t a mending that could be hidden very easily).

We liked all the candy but for the green tea KitKats and the bean paste gummy candy. (ew)

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After the fireworks show we headed out.  The park was closing so we were in a big crowd as we tried to keep up with Rich, who walks very purposefully with his long legs.

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I yelled for him to stop walking for a photo.  Thanks, Birthday boy!  It was the best day!

According to my step calculator on my phone I had walked 9.7 miles.

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David’s “after a long day at Epcot” greasy cheesy hamburger at 11pm!

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In fact, Seth started falling asleep right at the table.  Rich and I felt proud that we had finally made our most active child tired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

magic kingdom

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I had flown down to Orlando the day before to meet Rich who was already in town for business.  He looked so handsome leaning against a pillar in the airport at the end of the escalator to greet us.  We spent the rest of that day hugging, settling in the hotel, swimming, and exploring.

The next morning we drove from our hotel to Magic Kingdom.  Rich and I were looking forward to finishing up our parenting goal of making sure all seven of our children got to Disney in their childhoods.  Sarah was the only one who hadn’t been; we had David, Caleb, and Seth with us too, and the older three were in college but we had taken them when they were little.  In fact, it’s all on the blog.  The only trip that I didn’t blog about was when David was a baby and that’s only because I didn’t have a blog back then (15 years ago).

We took the Ferry over to the park.

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A nice thing about the boys having already experienced Disney was that they could knowledgeably “inform” Sarah about all the things she would see and do.  These types of conversations had been going on for weeks and she was very excited.

She and Seth kept their eyes on the castle all the way across the water.

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It’s always a lovely sight.

Okay—–honestly, Rich and I, now that we are back home, have already decided that never again if we can help it, will we go to Disney during Spring Break season.  The crowds were next to impossible.  There were some good things, however, as having so many excited people added to our own excitement.  (It also added to the length of time standing in lines.)   It was fun to hear different languages being spoken all around us and observing families from all over the world enjoying this famous destination.  But it was a very vast sea of humanity. . . . .

Speaking of crowds, we only lost children twice.  In fact, the first thing we did was lose children.  And by “lose” I mean, it was all their own fault (a miscommunication of sorts).  What happened was this:  In the midst of a thousand other people, Caleb had to use the bathroom so badly that as soon as we got across the water and departed from the ferry boat we located restrooms.  He and Seth ran just a little bit ahead of us into the men’s room, we were right behind them.  Sarah and I went into the ladies room and Rich and Dave went in just after the other boys, who never saw them.  Rich and Dave were still in the stalls when Caleb and Seth got done, so when they came outside and didn’t see us, they headed straight for the main entrance (just to the right of the lines) without any of us seeing them, either.  So THEN, the rest of us finished up and waited outside the bathrooms.  No Caleb, no Seth.  Before we even knew they were “missing” my phone rang.  They had immediately called me from a Security officer’s phone and found us.  In a nutshell, they thought we had went to the ticket counter to wait for them to go to the bathroom.

The second time was similar.  We were standing in line (a Very Long Line) waiting to go on a roller coaster.  We could see the restrooms from where we were standing so Seth ran out of line to go to the bathroom and then got confused trying to find us again.  Rich went to look for him just as my phone rang.  Seth had asked the first couple he saw to use their phone.  He was so close to us that I saw him talking to me on the phone.  So I just yelled, “SETH over here!” gave the couple a smile and a friendly wave, and called Rich to tell him Seth was safe and sound.

So right away we knew that the children would be able to find us again if they ended up lost in the multitudes of people.  Truly it was somewhat of a miracle that we didn’t lose them around every corner, it was THAT crowded.

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Main Street Parade

(we just caught the very end of it on our way to a ride).

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Thunder Mountain.

It was so cute to listen to Sarah make plans with Caleb to sit together; and to actually have Caleb agree to do it was adorable.  When we got home after our vacation was over, she had me print this very photo so she could take it to school.

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My beautiful travelers.

After a long winter, the sunshine we enjoyed in Orlando was such a treat.  We just made sure to use lots of sunscreen.

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We bought this photo from our next ride (Splash Mountain; Rich’s #1 favorite) to add to our collection.  We bought the frame to go with it and it was nice that they could send our purchase to the front of the park for us to pick up at the end of the day.  It’s now hanging on the wall next to a photo from Hershey Park, and one from Six Flags.

BD967BE0-EC96-4426-9855-52912599E529“Before (sobs) and After (smiles)”

Sarah got the #1 Overcomer of the Day award for riding Splash Mountain even though she was terrified.  The combination of water and a drop down was almost too much for her.  That’s why you see me holding her like that in the photo.

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The Buzz Lightyear ride is a favorite.

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We didn’t buy this one but I thought it was the cutest ever with Rich’s big muscles and Seth closing one eye to aim and shoot.

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Waiting for the Presidents show, we enjoyed the displays of memorabilia.  I took this photo of Projectile Points for Mom and brother Dave, only we call them Arrowheads.

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And of course the boys intently studied Teddy Roosevelt’s sword and asked me to take a photo.

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I did take my big camera with me to Disney.  I took a handful of photos with it on this day, including this nice one of handsome Caleb with Rich in the background (in his own car) but after Magic Kingdom I left it in the hotel.  I’m not saying I’ll never use it again, but I think when I have a bunch of other travel-mates with me and it’s a busy park it’s just easier to use the phone camera.  It was more of a time to take candids for my family then to think about thoughtful photography.  But I do love this photo of Caleb.

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Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse; be still my heart.

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Standing in line for the Enchanted Tiki Room; “vintage” Disney at it’s very best.

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Fireworks to make all the sentimental grown ups cry.  And I did, too.  (We waited for them to begin next to another family.  The dad was complaining almost in a desperate way because they had gone straight to the park from the airport and hadn’t even checked into the hotel.  They were exhausted.  He was wondering if the show would be worth it and almost didn’t want to wait.  He wanted to leave to escape the crowds.  But they stayed and later on during the show I could hear him singing along to the songs with his son up on his shoulders and I thought, “yes, it’s worth it.”)

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Seth took this as we waited for Rich to get our photo; it was the last picture taken of our visit to Magic Kingdom.  We had walked a total of 5.8 miles that day and went to bed at midnight after pancakes at Ihop.

Tomorrow I will share photos from Epcot.

magical kingdom

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PERHAPS adventuring gives us a deeper appreciation for the ordinary days.

NO ONE in their right mind would complain about taking their precious children to DISNEYWORLD and I am not about to do so, HOWEVER, I am currently sitting on my own worn out couch, legs under a flannel quilt that I made myself, with a nice cat at my feet, quiet house all around me, a sleeping daughter in her bed upstairs, and the anticipation of children getting home from school soon and I say, isn’t TODAY, the now, the messy beautiful JUST AS precious as a day in the magical kingdom?

Today is NOT an ordinary day, truly, no day is ordinary, it’s a gift.  Last night I had a little one sleep with me because my husband was away.  At 10 pm I was silently taking pictures of her restful, sleeping face.  All night long I was getting kicked and moving sleepily flung arms back to her side of the bed.

Then, just when I was about to sit and blog hours and hours ago, after the children got on the bus at 7:45, I suddenly remembered that GRACIE had a doctor’s appointment and I had to leave in fifteen minutes to go to school, pick her up, and drive to the Doctor’s.  It was a yearly check up and I thank God with all my heart for a healthy, beautiful teenage daughter.  She gets migraines and sometimes her eyes blank out/she gets dizzy/when she stands up too quick, but she’s talked to the Doctor and has all kinds of encouraging and helpful remedies to cope with those things.

When we got back home, Sarah and I went to the coop to visit the hens.  I sat in the grass and read a book while she became motherly with them, filling all the little cups and bowls (just a handful, really) with food, and walking slowly back from the pond with a saucer of water.  A hen laid an egg.  Sarah sang out, “thank yooooou, chickennnnnnn!”  We carried the egg home, she fried it herself with me by her side, she ate it for lunch.

*****

I LOVE blogging about the little things in each day, it’s harder for me to go back in time to blog about something from last month, but it would be a shame not to document our day at Magic Kingdom.

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Caleb and Seth are four years apart.  Rich and I took them with us on the trip to Disney because we have already taken the older four.  We needed some time with just these boys, it was so fun!  Rich had to go to Orlando on a business trip, but he took us along and extended his trip for a personal vacation weekend.  We were at Magic Kingdom on a Saturday.

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I love them.  This picture of the three of them makes me stop and gaze.  ^^^  those eyes.

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Seth was tall enough to ride every ride we wanted to go on, including Thunder Mountain.  The lines were long but we managed and the boys were good natured and happy the whole day.

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The Country Bear Jamboree is a must-see.

Rich and I are actually sort of sad that we only have Sarah left to take out of all seven children.  It’s the most wonderful thing in the world to take your children to Disney on that very first time for them, to see it all fresh through their eyes, knowing and remembering what it was like on your own first visit.  “Maybe we can take the grandchildren.” as remarked by myself, was met with a strange look from my husband.

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There were amusements to entertain us in the looooong lines…..like this “honey wall” at the Winnie the Pooh ride.  The moms thoughtfully took hand sanitizer out of their purses.

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Seth had a lollipop.  The walkways were wet from an afternoon shower.

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“It’s a Small World” ride…..lines (picture taken as we waited).

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The boys were dazzled by all the coins in the water.  We threw some in, too.

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We hugged in the lines.

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“Shalom” meant a lot to the boys after a week of Vacation Bible School and the “Shalom Song” they sang every day.

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The Swiss Family Robinson treehouse.

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really love these words~

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Little shoots of water were coming out randomly from a ride and Seth danced around trying to get wet for a few minutes.

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So typical.

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They are such good boys.

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I saw the tower from Tangled.

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We were busy all day long walking, riding, waiting, sitting in shows, looking…….fifteen hours, to be exact.

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It meant so much to Rich to be able to have this special vacation with the boys and me.

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Okay.  So.  Rich was riding a baby roller coaster with Caleb and Seth and I had to have a break.  I went and bought a caramel apple, sat down to eat it and waited for them to return……well…..I had to sneak out my camera and take this picture…..of a mom with her darling daughters…they sat next to me and all three wore pink shoes!   The icing on the cake was the baby’s feet!  She lost her shoe but her tiny sock was pink, too!

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If I remember correctly the fireworks were at about 10pm.  We watched them from in back of the park/castle to avoid the masses of people in front.

Just so beautiful.

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After the fireworks were over we continued to stay at the park for several more hours.  It was nice to walk in the cool of the day and we all got our “second winds”.

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We rode the Buzz Lightyear ride twice and the boys got behind bars with Zurg.

We went on more and more rides, the last one being *Space Mountain* which was quite intense, and very odd to be having such thrills at MIDNIGHT.   I spent the entire ride worried that Seth (who was behind me) would fly out of his seat.  But all was well.

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The castle is so pretty, I turned around to take one last picture of it as we left.

*****

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legos for the boys

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((SETH AND CALEB in the plane.  Caleb, a more cautious type, was quietly worried and gave up his window seat to Seth.  They were excellent travelers. Seth loved going to the bathroom.))

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The first thing Caleb did this morning was go to the table to continue working on his first big lego set.  He is 9 and the set has 738 pieces in it.  He has three older brothers and typically lets them put his sets together for him.  I am proud to see that he is getting old enough to follow the directions carefully and do it himself.  It takes some concentration and determination for a boy to put a lego set together, and it’s so healthy and good for their minds.  Before you know it, you’ve convinced yourself that fifty odd dollars on a box of plastic bricks is worth every penny!

My husband had to work in the Orlando office after lunch, so the boys and I walked to Downtown Disney.  They were already enlightened by the knowledge of a LEGO STORE, and I figured we may as well cross that off our list of things to do…..with springs in our steps we practically ran to find the legos.

Isn’t it funny how a girl’s mind changes when she becomes a grown up and a mom?  I’m so used to giving the children experiences that I almost forget what I myself enjoy!  If I was a little girl the last place I would want to go to would be the Lego store.  (I know some girls love them and that’s great and all, but not me).  On the last day in Orlando I went alone to a completely girlie store in Downtown Disney….I smelled every bar of soap and bath bomb in the place and treated myself to my own souvenirs…and everything was PINK.

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We stopped to give Buzz a pat.  I have pictures of this same Buzz with baby David (first trip), and then the older children, too (second trip).

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Caleb likes “How to Train a Dragon” (he just finished reading the book) these days, so he was thrilled to be greeted by a fire breathing dragon made of legos.

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We also found the seven dwarfs made of legos.

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While admiring the sea monster made of legos in the water, the boys excitedly told me there was a bird to take a picture of.  This happened all through our trip, they would point out bits of nature and I knew my family’s love for God’s creation was being was passed along to them, even if unintentional.  They collected a white feather to give to Grandma, and wanted me to pack palm tree bark to take back for Uncle Dave.  I am sorry, Uncle Dave but I never did pick any up for you.

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A somewhat disturbing image of Snow White.

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We entered the store of happiness.  My job of keeping my eyes on two little boys just got even more exciting.

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Seth had no trouble picking out his new set.  It kills me that he lost Bilbo Baggins before we even got home.  He still has the golden ring, though.

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They are always so thoughtful to point their fingers, grab my arm, and say LOOK! over and over because they know how much I appreciate the legos.

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This is 17 year old Jacob’s dream lego set.  Only three hundred and ninety nine dollars!  Awesome!

Actually, they have so many legos at this point that he put together a pretty decent death star with instructions off the computer. (=free)

( did I just say death star?  like I know what I’m talking about??  who am I??)

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Caleb really and truly wanted a Lego Movie set and at first I said no to the one he wanted because, if I remember correctly, it was 10 dollars more than Seth’s.  But then I thought, “this is Disney, where dreams come true” and said yes.  I can’t even show you a picture of it because I didn’t take one.  But it’s the “Lord Business’ Evil Lair” set which includes a tiny sign that says “Where are my Pants?”, and other fun things you will only understand if you watch the movie, which I have about five times now.

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I don’t know, they just pointed it out to me so I took a picture.

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The Incredible Hulk was there.

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Seth with Lego Woody and Lego Buzz, and trying to keep his lego set in his arms.

At the register I joined the lego VIP club, it’s about time, right?  We also received a free lego set (of a car) for spending over 100 dollars.

Next, I made them go to into a shop so I could get a sweatshirt.  I lost my anthropologie white sweater at the airport 😦

I made them go into the Ghirardelli chocolate store so I could get a frozen latte. (caffeine!)

Then we headed back to the room(s) so the boys could put together their mini figures.

The hotel messed up our reservations so we ended up staying in the best suite of the entire Hilton…the presidential suite.

It gave the boys plenty of room to spread out their lego sets without mixing them up.

Caleb was here::

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And Seth was here::

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If you have boys, perhaps they would like to see this blog post.  Tell them, when you go to Disney, there are legos there!

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After half a day of travel and an adventure in the Lego store, Caleb and Seth settled into their covers for a movie::Kung Fu Panda 2.  Seth fell asleep.

After their rest time, we left to go to dinner with Rich’s team.

*****

vacation//orlando, FL

Rich was so excited about our vacation that he stayed up super late the night before.  On Thursday morning we woke up at 4:30 in the morning to drive to the airport with the boys.  About 5 years ago, we took Jacob, Ethan, Grace, and David to Disney and this year it was Caleb and Seth’s turn to go.

We got back home safe and sound last night at about 11pm.  I drove over to our friends’ house to retrieve Grace, Sarah, and David this morning.

Jacob and Ethan stayed at home to take care of things.

It feels good and right to be back with all seven children today.  David is watching drawing lesson videos on Youtube, Sarah is by my side talking to herself, Seth is playing with a hula hoop, Ethan’s outside, Jacob is upstairs with Grace and Emily…..

I have a ton of photos to share but today I thought I would simply post all my phone pictures.

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After a whole day of travel on Thursday and a late night eating dinner with Rich’s team (more details on that later), by Saturday morning the boys hated the idea of another “sit down and wait forever” meal….so we happily went to McDonald’s for breakfast.

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Here I am in Downtown Disney, enjoying a dark-chocolate-covered pineapple spear.  photo by Rich

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Downtown Disney bakery….I thought the Olaf candy apples were adorable (10 dollars a piece).

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At the hotel pool, watching the boys swim.

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Seth, our little swimmer.  We forgot his life jacket but he was just fine.

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Friday evening dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings, after a long day at Gatorland.

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Downtown Disney was a short walk from our hotel so we went often; this was such a fun night with loud music playing…people milling about, dancing along, just such a upbeat, happy atmosphere.

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It rained for a little while at Magic Kingdom so we bought big plastic ponchos.  I love how Seth is grinning at the phone, too.  photo by Caleb

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SPLASH MOUNTAIN!!!!!  Rich’s favorite Disney ride.

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While we were waiting for the Winnie the Pooh ride, the boys hung out in Eeyore’s Gloomy Place.

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10pm Disney fireworks!!!   I always get sentimental.

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pretty awesome selfie, right?

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Oh my word.  I rode space mountain for the first time at about midnight….with our hotel room key we were able to stay after hours…I had no clue this ride was so crazy.  I was praying and thinking about Seth the entire way.  He loved it and when we got off he said, “Where WAS I?  I was bouncing the whole time!”  This ride is a roller coaster in the dark, I was scared that Seth would fly out of his seat.  Rich was afraid he would lose his sunglasses (clipped on his shirt).  Caleb was in the car in front of us.   Very fun ride!

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I have a lot more Epcot pictures on my phone because my big camera ran out of batteries the moment we entered the park, LOL.

This is where people can sample ice cold sodas from different countries.  so interesting!  Their favorite was the dark red soda from Zimbabwe.

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Such a PERFECT quote for our Seth.  He doesn’t know his left from his right, he doesn’t know how to tie his shoes, but his adventurous spirit never stops and inspires us to no end.  He went zip lining this weekend, and rode roller coasters with no fear.   Wait until you see the pictures of him hanging over the alligators in his zip line harness in Gatorland!

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Rich came back from taking my camera back to the car and since the boys had no desire to visit the Epcot countries, he took them away to go on rides.  I was able to walk around by myself.  My favorite places were England, France, and most especially Norway.  My Great Grandfather came to America from Norway and over the past year I’ve gotten more and more fascinated by this beautiful country.  I read Kristen Lavransdatter twice (a huge pulizer prize novel, of the best quality literature, IMO) and several other Norweigan books…..most recently, the haunting Giants in the Earth, a saga of the prairie, by Ole Rolvaag, a story of Norweigan immigrants in America.  It contained the most beautiful treatment of mental illness I’ve ever read, but ended in such a way that I am still asking questions and coming to grips with the novel.  I do recommend it highly, however…both “Kristen” and “Giants” are excellent books.

I was greatly looking forward to Norway, but I had forgotten that the movie FROZEN was set in Norway so it was a let down for me personally that the movie and characters have made “Norway” in Epcot more of a destination than it was the last time I was there.

While I was there I ate lunch; and as I ate I started a Norway pinterest board on my phone.  🙂

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traditional Norweigan baked goods; lafke (filled with cinnamon sugar and butter) and school bread.  Both were so delicious.  Of course I was starving by that time, too.

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I went back to France for a cappuccino.

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meanwhile, Rich was also having fun…he texted me this picture….

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I watched a show on the sidewalk.

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It was such a beautiful day.  I love the flower gardens at Epcot, and the cloudy blue sky was big and gorgeous.

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the boys wanted to catch a lizard in the worst way

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pickle christmas tree

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thinking of my girlies, wishing they were with me

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waiting in line for a ride

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our little vikings.

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YESTERDAY Rich took the boys to a water park while I stayed behind to lounge at the pool, shop, and nap.  We were all packed and ready to leave by 4:30, tired but happy!

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After we landed in Hartford, the pilot let the boys sit in the chairs.  He only said, “NO don’t touch that one!” once.  🙂