Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back home (154.2)

We made it back from Florida on Monday.  Our flight out of Orlando was at 7:10am and we were in our house by 9:30am (with the change from EST back to CST, we gained an hour, the flight is only 90 minutes, and the drive from the airport is 45 minutes).  

I was awake at 3:15am, and it was a long, long day. The kids were troopers & are great travelers, but we were all wiped out.  We watched the last three Harry Potter movies when we got home. I had the beginnings of a migraine by 1pm (not enough sleep, too much TV).  I took a maxalt by 5pm and was asleep by 8pm.  

I went to work on Tuesday at 10am and worked yesterday until 8pm. I was a zombie most of the day, and had very little appetite. I just didn't feel well all day and wanted to be home.  Vacation afters.

The last two days have not been easy.  I'm still tired and feel out of sorts. We are slowly making our way through laundry.  Mark is helping a lot and I'm just dealing with the mess.  I'm still sleep deprived and adjusting to getting back to normal. 

Kids were home by themselves yesterday, which was a little rough at times on them, and not ideal but we don't have better options.  They are with my sister today, which will be fun because she's taking them to a movie & to feed the ducks (it's in the upper 70s here, gorgeous weather).  

There are only three & a half weeks till school starts; Sophie has one week of camp next week, & Luke will be with my mom.  Then two weeks of just the two of them at home or with my mom.  I wish school started earlier.  I don't want to put them in camps, they don't want to go to camps, but they don't want to be home alone with each other all the time either. There isn't an easy solution. We all just have to deal & make the best of it at this point.

I'm very thankful I didn't gain weight over vacation.  We walked a ton and I never made horrendous food choices and never stuffed myself, so vacation weight gain wasn't really a huge concern, other than the water weight from salty restaurant foods.   

It was a great trip, I'm glad we did it.  I would do some things differently, like not go to Clearwater (although I'm glad we went, because Luke met a boy from Scotland there who he has facetimed & traded addresses with, and hopefully will stay in contact with, and that's really cool), but we probably won't go back there (way over crowded).  New Smyrna was awesome and the hotel was wonderful (Best Western), and that will be our go-to place for the Atlantic coast.  Universal's Diagon Alley is a MUST for Harry Potter fans, but wait a year or so to go. 

10 days is a long vacation, but it's better to be ready to go home than to get to the end of vacation and be regretting having to leave.  We were all ready to come home. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Florida report

Just had to let you all know we got to go to Diagon Alley the day
before it officially opened and didn't have to do the 5 am insanity.
It was awesome.

When we went to Hogsmeade on July 7, we bought Luke a wand right away,
and the girl helping him told us that the Hogwarts Express train was
running and Diagon Alley was open. Unofficially, and the ride
Gringotts wasn't running, but we could go on over.

It was just word of mouth so it was busy but less so than Hogsmeade.
We got right into Olivanders, the wand shop and did the wand ceremony
experience, which can often be hours and hours of waiting.

We spent about 4 hours there and saw all the shops and sights. It's
totally immersive, just like being in Diagon Alley. Incredible.

July 8 we got up early and went to Hogsmeade at 8 am for early park
entry for hotel guests (hour before general admission). It was crazy
busy. We did the castle and rode the ride (which terrified Luke, no
more rides for him). We didn't last long--very sunny and very crowded.
We headed back to the hotel around 12:30.

Luke and Mark went swimming in the hotel pool, which was huge, and
Sophie and I took naps. Later Mark and I took turns going back to the
parks and rode a few rides ourselves. I rode a couple of roller
coasters which was fun.

Yesterday we did Diagon Alley at 7 am (hotel early park admission) and
got in line for Gringotts by 7:30. This ride has been plagued by
breakdowns and it suffered a few yesterday morning. When we got in
line we were in for a 210 min wait. We had 2 breakdowns added to that.
We finally rode it at 11:10.

That sounds like a long wait, and it was, but we talked and laughed
and were never in the sun and there are amazing things to look at
along the line that are part of the story (once you get into
Gringotts--which was after we'd been waiting about 2 hours).

I'd prepared to wait. I'd brought snacks and water. I bought more
water when we broke down the first time. I took Luke and myself to the
bathroom when we broke down the second time. Since Luke didn't ride,
we did child swap (one parent rides while other parent sits with the
kid in a waiting room) and he earned money for waiting it out, which
yes is bribery but it kept him happy and it made us happy.

Was it worth it? Omg. Yes. Best ride ever. We aren't amusement park
people. But we are movie people. And we love Harry Potter. And this
ride is like being inside of a movie. I seriously was tearing up at
the end, it was so incredibly beautiful and astounding what the
engineers have created with this ride. It's a roller coaster that is
on a turn table that's inside a 3D (really, 4D because there are heat
and wind and water affects) holographic movie.

And the energy of every person on the ride was joyful and happy
because you were only there if you were a hard core fan. Applause
every time a train left and every time a train arrived. It was a once
in a lifetime experience. Except for Sophie, who got to ride it twice
since we do child swap and she rides with each parent. Lucky girl.

Luke in the child swap room was happy because they had a movie reel
playing of the two movie scenes of HP in Gringotts. And we'd all been
wanting to watch HP movies since we got to Universal, and he was the
first one of us to get to.

We stayed in DA for a few more hours to revisit a few shops again,
making sure the kids did everything they wanted and not rushing them
out. We may never come back, or if we do it will be years, so we wrung
out every drop. They did it all and we left.

We rode the Simpsons ride, ate at Mel's Diner, left in the sprinkling
rain, walked back to the hotel, got our luggage, an drove to the Gulf.

Now we're at Clearwater Beach, getting ready to go relax on the calm
shore of the gulf (I'm waiting for my turn in the shower).

Much different here from the Atlantic. This is our first time in
Clearwater and we don't yet know our way around so we have a lot of
exploring to do. Hopefully we'll find a lot of shells.