We were very sad to see summer come to an end! This past year has been a whirlwind! Summer was our first long stretch of down time. Of course, we were more up and out than down, but it was nice to have a relaxed schedule and controlled environment. Swim team practices and meets kept us VERY busy, but overall it was a good experience. I think MC will join the team next summer. We'll have to see how that goes with a toddler.
At the beginning of August, we took a weeklong trip to Orlando. The hubbie signed up for a conference earlier in the year and as soon as I found out the location I jumped on the chance to get away. In part because the thought of ending the summer flying solo gave me hives. More importantly we haven't been on a real vacation in two years. I'll be honest and admit that the only thing I miss about my husband's old job is the perks: frequent flyer miles, car rental points, hotel upgrades and VIP status. That being said, I wouldn't trade any of that for having him home to put out a few fires during the week!
Anywho, back to Orlando….Being the psycho planner that I am, I previewed the hotel and all of their activities, mapped out local restaurants to figure out cost effective meal options and decided on a Walt Disney World itinerary. We've been to WDW before, so I didn't feel stressed to do everything but you can't go to Orlando without at least stopping by to see Mickey!
We stayed at the JW Marriott which is adjacent to the Ritz Carlton. It's a compound with every amenity you can imagine. Some of the activities were for older children and adults: fly fishing, eco tours, etc., but were plenty of kid friendly things to do. Being a guest of either hotel granted us unlimited access to both properties. The Ritz had RitzKids, which is like a day camp for kids. JW Marriott had a gargantuan waterpark. I decided not to plan every minute, but let the kids have input.
B had training classes until the end of the work day. A couple of times he also had night events, but the hotels had evening activities, so I was sure we would be set. Each day I asked the boys if they wanted to do an activity from kids' program. Each day I got the same answer: nope. We spent every day at the water park! It was very relaxing, but I felt like we should be "doing" something a little more productive or educational. Finally the last day of our trip I convinced them to take a nature walk and meet other kids for a fish feeding. Other than that they were happy to play checkers on the life sized checker/chess board, ping pong (HUGE hit), tetherball and relax in the hotel suite. *We upgraded our standard room to a much larger suite on day 2 to avoid any casualties.
Several evenings and one very LONG Friday, we visited Disney World. As I said before, this wasn't our first time, so we didn't even attempt to see everything. We tried to just see our favorites and any new attractions or things that we may have missed last time. Let me start by saying I DO NOT like Disney World. I'm not into amusement parks, never have been, and think they're highly overpriced. I feel like I'm being conned into thinking it's all cool and exciting when it's really not. The whole environment reminds me of one of my favorite childhood stories: The Emperor's New Clothes. I just feel it's one of those things you must do for your kids, so we did it. We opted out of character visits and signings this time because we did a lot of that last time and I wasn't sure how Baby Girl would handle that. She ended up sleeping a great deal each time we went to one of the parks. I guess that means we'll have to visit again when she's old enough to remember---yay!
Because I like to do everything at the same time, Baby A's birthday party was scheduled two weeks after we returned from vacation. Anyone who's ever traveled with small children (particularly flying) knows that you need a vacay from the vacay, but that didn't stop me from being ambitious!
I quickly sent out cheesy invitations and finished making her birthday shirt and bow, both of which had been started previously and put on the back burner while I planned our trip and did back to school shopping. I stopped by our favorite bakery and ordered a ridiculous amount of cake, grabbed supplies and got busy. The ideas for the party had been swirling around in my head for months, but they were up there with shopping lists and the Thanksgiving and Christmas menus, so I had to quickly regroup and get focused to pull it all together. Surprisingly I got everything unpacked and most things washed from our trip before family came for the party. I'm a slow packer and even slower unpacker.
The funniest part (besides Baby A and her cousin fighting because he kept trying to inspect her birthday outfit) was when the party was over, the boys were jealous because the baby had such an awesome party. Really? So, hanging out at home with friends, playing, eating dinner and making snow cones is more fun than the very expensive parties and dinners that you've been having for the past ** years?! Note to self: dummy it down and go cheap!
The boys started school two days after the party. I'm pretty sure they were still on a sugar high from the cake and candy station. Their teachers seem to be very good and passionate about teaching. The school also has a new administrative staff, so I expect many changes. Overall I think this will be a great school year!
I can't believe JB will start middle school next year. I'm NOT ready for that. For now I'll just enjoy the moment.