Random pictures

I’ve got pictures from before our Disney trip that I’ve been meaning to post.  Sorry that my blog is not in chronological order right now.

Bill’s sister and parents visited us the week after Christmas.  The days they left, we said, “Hey, we didn’t take any pictures.”  Nobody minded taking a picture with Aunt Margaret, who left before New Year’s and who is surrounded by the flotsam of Christmas gift giving.  But cooperation was scarce for the grandparent picture.  It was too sunny, they all felt.  I finally bribed Mary with a candy cane to get that last picture.

Epcot: Part I

After 6 hours at Hollywood Studios, the younger crowd was spent.  We went back to the hotel and decided that I would take the older three to Epcot, while Bill chilled out, watched kid movies, and got the younger ones off to an early, and much needed, bedtime.

Jenny was most unhappy about being left behind, but her mood had been awful.  We suggested that a better attitude during the day would garner her more priviledges some other day.  She was much more pleasant the remaining days of our trip.

I didn’t realize the dial had been
rotated to the black and white selection.

Same thing, only different.


A little big.

The country after Mexico is Norway.  I didn’t get any pictures, because I was too busy talking to a young man who normally worked in that section.  It was his day off.  He personally escorted us through the Fast Pass line to the ride in Norway and stayed with us the whole time we were in that area.  We talked about Eric the Red and the scale of a model ship, which was erroneously labeled.

Then I pretended the kids were my older sister’s children, and we exchanged phone numbers.

Just kidding.

We did not buy any hats.


Germany.  St. George.
Notice that it’s getting dark?

Remember that the day did not
begin particularly warmly?

And when the sun went down, it was quite cold.

One of the first things we had done when we got to Epcot was to get Fast Pass tickets to the Test Track.  The ride time was 2 hours away, so we didn’t intend to linger long in the foreign countries.  The dropping temperatures also convinced us to keep moving.

Every 5 minutes, Billy kept reminding us of the time.  I told him we didn’t need to be at the Test Track right at the exact beginning time.  But he wanted to.  He actually ran the last 50 yards to get there right on time. 

This is the child who most closely resembles a 3 toed sloth when it’s time to get ready for school.

After the ride, we had 2 hours to go until the laser light show.  We went into a store, but we had seen all the stuff already, and we weren’t buying.  I found an indoor ice cream store…key word: indoor.  Bonus: they also sold hot chocolate.  We loitered.

A bad photo, but as we sat around I realized that
there was a whole line of characters waiting to be
met, photographed and hugged.  Character greetings
at the Magic Kingdom have very long lines.  Not as
many visitors to Epcot want to see Mickey Mouse.

Enjoying hot chocolate.

I let Fritz use my camera.
Katie has not learned how to eat without getting
food all over her face.

I let Katie take a picture too.
Fritz is Katie’s role model in eating habits.

Of course, I had to let Billy take one too.

I think after this, we went to Mission: Space, and then it was time for the laser show.  All of the good spots were taken by people who had dressed more warmly than we did, hence they did not mind standing around for 30 minutes in the freezing cold.  Fritz and I had a mediocre view, Katie had a slightly better vantage as I piggy-backed her, but Billy wormed his way in front of the adults blocking us and had a decent look.

Again, take any weather forecast with a grain of salt.  And if you’ll be out past sundown, be prepared for the lowest of the low temperatures.

As we hustled through the park (from beginning to end), I kept asking Fritz, “Did I lose anybody yet?”  It’s amazingly freeing to fly through public places without a stroller or pokey little puppies.  And when mom walks with a purpose, even the most wide-eyed 10 year old star gazer will step it up and stay on target.  As we strode, Fritz and I had a lively debate about whether it would be more cost-effective to lose a 9 year old, who still had 9 years left under our roof, or the 12 year old, who had more expensive needs (shoes and jeans, alone, are killing me for the constant replacement), but who would be out of the house in less time.  Fritz, understandable, argued in favor of losing the 9 year old over the 12 year old. 

And he stayed very close to my side.

Note: It was not I who wanted to meet and greet the characters.  Nor was it Fritz nor Billy.  It was mostly Jenny, and somewhat Katie.  Jenny spent some of her souvenir money on an autograph book (not the first one she saw, but the cheapest one she ended up finding…good girl).  I noted the accessibility of the characters at Epcot for future reference, and we did not go to them that night.  If you or your children want to get autographs of or pictures with the characters, I suggest you try the other parks first, and only do the Magic Kingdom lines if you have to.

Perfect Saturday: a checklist

Homemade muffins for breakfast: check.

Team effort house cleaning spree: check.

Confession at the cathedral: check.

Family rosary in the car on the way home: check.

Afternoon run in the fabulous 70-degree temps: check.

Vigil Mass with boys as altar servers: check.

Plenary indulgence for confession, rosary and Eucharist (times 5): bonus points.

Homemade stew for dinner: check.

Babysitter: check.

Two hours uninterrupted conversation: check.

Kids asleep when we get home: 5 out of 6.

The kids in Lafayette Park.
What a beautiful day.

The cathedral in the background.
Bill and I went to Lafayette College
and love that Lafayette Park is next
to the cathedral.  There’s a gorgeous
house for sale right across the street, too.

Hollywood Studios

We’ve had a crack down here on people not doing what they’re supposed to be doing (that would be me, primarily).  This may seem like a no-brainer, but half-days for schoolwork for, um, three months, will put you behind schedule.  Really.
So, it’s my lunch hour and I’m hoping I can post pictures of another Disney day before I have to put my nose back to the grindstone.  Or rather, pick up the whip.  {It is now bedtime and I’m hoping to wrap up the first part of our vacation day…}

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, Monday was so exhausting that we took Tuesday off.  Bill and I went for a run, and then we all went to Downtown Disney, which is a shopping and restaurant district designed to part people and their cash.  There is a LEGO store there, and that is where most of my little fools bid farewell to their souvenir money.  I checked out the ticket prices for Cirque du Soleil and decided that my children will never see this show if I have to pay for it.
Wednesday dawned sunny but cold.  The 10 day forecast had predicted temps in the mid-60s, but every day, the reality became lower and lower.  We ended up having highs in the mid-50’s with morning temperatures in the 30’s or even lower.

And I left winter coats and gloves at home.  Brr.  We tried to avoid the shade.

The older kids wanted to go to Hollywood Studios, and friends had said the Toy Story Mania ride was a lot of fun, so that’s where we headed.  I went to get Fast Pass tickets fairly early (~10 am), and our ride time was something like 2:30 pm (and when we went for our turn, there were no more Fast Pass tickets available, so keep that in mind if you go).

No short sleeves.  Yes, Jenny is shivering.

One of the participatory shows allows kids to become Padawans.  It’s for kids ages 4-12, and of my 5 eligible children, only one was interested: Billy, of course.  Another note if you go, you have to sign your child up for a time slot, then they have to come back 30 minutes before the show.  But if you have a Star Wars fan, it is a lot of fun.

In line for Jedi training.

Listening to instructions.




And again.

And again.

And again…

And again.

Darth Vader cometh.

Billy bravely ready to fight evil.

Take that!


Not sure if this is a defensive or offensive move.
I think it’s supposed to be offensive..

The class stands firmly opposed to the Dark Side.
Check out the cutie on the far left.  Bad to the bone.

This happy face made standing in the cold worth it.

After this, Bill took the older 3 to an Indiana Jones stunt show, and I took the younger half over to see Beauty and the Beast, abridged.  Both shows were outdoor venues.  In the shade.  On metal benches.

“Indiana Jones”

Throwing punches.

We met up and ate our packed lunches.  I’m not partial to smushed sandwiches.  If I were to pack lunch for the office, I would guard it carefully or pack it in a hard plastic (reusable) container.  Throwing a sandwich wrapped in foil in a backpack along with 7 other sandwiches and snacks and water bottles guarantees smushed sandwiches.  Solution: Bill and I and Fritz opted for wrap sandwiches.  Same fixings, but in a large tortilla.  Doesn’t smush up like bread does.

After our lunch we split up again.  Bill took 4 off to some of the indoor shows while I took Billy and Katie, the Daring Duo, to ride the Tower of Terror and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  Although I like for us to do things together, it’s not much fun for little kids to sit and wait for big kids to get off rides…nor is it fun for big kids to sit through things geared for a younger audience.  And going separate ways gets you through a park faster. 

The lines were blessedly short and we joined the rest of the family for a Playhouse Disney show that Mary thoroughly enjoyed.  The rest of us were happy to be sitting and warm.  By this time, our Fast Pass ride time was almost up.  We headed to Toy Story Mania, which is a larger than life 3-D video game, similar to the Buzz Lightyear ride in Magic Kingdom.  Mary really couldn’t figure out her gun, so I ignored her and focused on maximizing my score.

I dogged our group, by a landslide.

Very excited.
Very tired.
The whole place was made to look like you were the scale of
a toy soldier.  We liked the C9 lights…more like C9000 lights.


Having fun.

The “toy” scale carried through outside.  It was cute.


I asked Bill what in the world he was taking a picture of.
The army guys, of course.  They were well done.
As I said, cute.

We had been working hard to quell meltdowns in the younger crowd before Toy Story Mania, and I would have left but for those Fast Pass tickets. Also, unfortunately, we had promised someone we would stop by “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.”  As a final stop, that was actually rather nice.  The little ones just want to play, and this is a playground.

She wanted me to hold her up so she could
reach the PlayDoh to get it out.
Her heaven: a lifetime supply of PlayDoh.

The little kids were too scared to get near the ant.
Thank goodness the big kids aren’t too big to pose.

It was mid-afternoon, and we decided that the younger crowd had had it.  Or maybe we had had it with the younger crowd.  We saw what we needed to see, so we left.  I wanted to get a last picture in front of the centrally located hat, and a nice worker offered to take one of all of us.  You might notice that 2 people are highly uncooperative.

Shiny, happy people (not holding hands).

That day wasn’t over, but this day is, and I am signing off.

Needed: shave and a haircut

Here’s my middle aged hippie/rocker husband with a mullet/ponytail.

How in the world does he get away with that ‘do in the Army?

Last night, Bill and I loitered over our dinner.  Most of the kids had excused themselves, but then there were the hangers-on…the ones who suspect that something monumental might be discussed and they wouldn’t want to miss it.  Or perhaps they just enjoy our company so much, that they can’t bear to go into another room.

Jenny was climbing all over Bill, and behind him.  She was making rabbit ears and other annoying gestures which he couldn’t see, and which did not amuse me (her audience) in the slightest.  But when she crouched behind him and spread her hair over his shoulders, I nearly fell off my chair.

I much prefer the high-and-tight cut.

Pray and Work

I count among my friends a certain woman and her husband.  The husband is…notorious.  I’m not naming names, not because I fear what others may think about me because of him, but because I have witnessed otherwise rational people become quite rabid at the mention of his name (in blogs, in comboxes).  It is unfortunate, because a lot of what he has to say is worth hearing.

My thoughts today are not wholly original.  It is my friend, the wife, who used the following scenario to explain her and her husband’s motives for certain controversial actions.

Suppose, one day, a woman is raped on a street corner not far from your home.  Most of us would be upset – it is a horrible crime.  Perhaps we would be concerned for our own safety or that of our friends, daughters, neighbors.  We would want to know what the police were doing about it.

Suppose another woman is raped…and another…in the exact same spot.  We would probably get angry at the situation.  We might organize a neighborhood watch to protect women in the area.  We might storm the town council and demand 24 hour protection for the area.

Suppose we found out that the town, or the state, had decided that raping women on that particular street corner was legal.  We would probably be outraged that such a despicable crime were permitted under any conditions anywhere.  Some of us might fight to abolish that law.  Some of us might stand vigil on that street to warn women.  Some who stand vigil might see women being dragged there by men who want to rape them and know they can legally do it only on that corner.  Some standing vigil might be roused to violence in defense of the woman about to be victimized.

Suppose, despite all these efforts, the act remained legal on that corner and in other parts of the country.  Suppose after a decade, hundreds or thousands of women were being raped every day, legally.  How would we, as a society, cope with that?

Would the outrage remain?  Would we get tired of trying to protect women?  Would we stop the daily vigil and only show up on days that weren’t quite as hectic (no soccer practice today, guess I have time to go rage against the violence)? 

Would we have less horror of the act of rape?  After a decade of being told that rape was OK, under certain circumstances, would youth brought up in that environment think rape is a big deal at all?  Would we begin to justify it, perhaps thinking that the women deserved it? 

How about after two or three decades?  Wouldn’t we have to begin to believe that women were less deserving of certain rights?  How, after all, can you legally permit unspeakable horrors against other human beings?

Think of the Holocaust.  Dauchau, the first concentration camp, opened in 1933.  The nightmare that occurred in the “civilized” West lasted for just over a decade.  It was only possible by dehumanizing those of Jewish descent, by fearful dominance of the populace, and by citizens who claimed ignorance of the situation.

Slavery.  It’s been with us forever, and is even still in this country, hidden.  One person given the right to decide the fate of another.  But it was ok, legally, because the slave wasn’t a full citizen (full human). 

Now, in places in Europe, doctors have the authority to decide if an older person or a sick person or a handicapped infant has the right to live.  This is not a lengthy ordeal with due process.  Today, the doctor decides and executes.

Time and again, we give legal authority to one class of people over another class of people.  Time and again, we make indefinite exceptions to the concept that each person has the right to life, liberty and property without due process.  It is one thing to deprive a convicted criminal of his liberty.  Quite another to deprive one unlucky enough to be kidnapped from a foreign country.

When we will learn?  And when will we act?  If we do not defend the freedoms of others, there may be nobody left to defend us when we become the target.

Today is the March for Life in Washington, D.C.  My friend, the husband, is actively pro-life.  There are many in the pro-life movement who revile him.  His ways do not meet with everyone’s approval.  For one, he believes that images are vital to the cause, that people need to see the horrific reality of abortion.  He has done other things and been called a self-serving showboat.  That’s not the person I know.  His ways are not my ways, but that doesn’t mean his fight isn’t valid.  There isn’t one way to fight this evil.  We all have to do our part.

Recently I read a criticism of him that suggested he should just go home and pray the rosary.  I believe in the power of prayer, wholly believe in it.  But I believe in going to the doctor when I’m sick and taking up arms against a hostile enemy.  Praying does not make my kitchen floor any cleaner.  St. Benedict said: Ora et labora.  Pray and work.

My friend, the wife, concluded by saying that we each, in the end, have to account to God for our actions.  When there was an atrocity in our midst, He will ask, what did we do about it?  They have been granted the ability to spend more time than most in working against abortion.  We each have our own job to do.  Perhaps, for some of us, praying is all we can do. 

Or blogging.

38 years of abortion.  Over 50 million dead.  No end in sight. 

When are you going to be outraged?  What are you doing about it?