Saturday, 28 April 2012

Home Sweet Home

Oh boy, it's good to be back in familiar surroundings. It's amazing what you miss - your own bed is of course the main thing, but little things like bread and milk. Of course there was bread and milk in America, but they're choc-full of preservatives and have unnaturally long shelf lives. They just don't taste the same. The first thing I ate when I got home yesterday morning was marmite on toast :-) I hadn't actually noticed how different the milk tasted in America until I had a glass this morning - I had been avoiding milk for the last month (health reasons) so when I drank some while we were over there it didn't really taste all that different. But my glass of milk this morning? Man, did it taste gooooooooooood.

Yep, it's good to be back! We had a lot of fun while we were in Florida. So much to do, so little time! Plus the Round Three sock pattern for Sock Madness had been released - luckily I managed to download it and transfer it to my Kindle before our little mobile data thingee stopped working, otherwise it would've been game over - so I had a pair of socks to try and squeeze some knitting time in for while we were 'touristing'. Anyway, I guess I'll start from where I left off, and work my way through.

First, we went to a place called WonderWorks. It was a neat little place full of science experiments and interactive displays. The boys had a great time playing with the giant bubbles:


X and Deane went wandering on the rope climb:


And we stayed for dinner and a magic show. Unfortunately, I had a wicked head cold that day - everything ached and I felt like crap, so I wasn't overly enthusiastic. But we still had fun.

The next two days were spent at Disney (along with my good friend ibuprofen). Hollywood Studios had such excellent rides as the Rockin' Roller Coaster (freakin' awesome), Star Tours (the boys LOVED that one), and the Tower of Terror . Unfortunately, poor judgement on our part allowed us to take T on this ride. It was pitch black, and completely unpredictable. Little T freaked out at the zero gravity (the seatbelt wouldn't go tight enough around him to hold him on the seat well - I had to hold him down).  After that, and Space Mountain the next day at Magic Kingdom (also very dark), we had quite a time convincing him to go on other rides. You'd think the name 'The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror' would tip us off that maybe it wasn't good for little kids, right? I blame lack of sleep...

The second day at Magic Kingdom wasn't so bad after the shock of Space Mountain. Here's T having a great time whizzing around on the teacups ride:


The boys enjoyed the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. There was so much to do there we spent a full 12 hours at the park. We ended up staying for the Electrical Parade:


And the Nighttime Spectacular, which really was spectacular! It was quite amazing, and very well done. Images were projected onto the castle, and were constantly changing throughout the show to music. The boys thought it was awesome. And the fireworks? Who doesn't love fireworks?!? What makes it even better is the reflection in the lake:


Very pretty. We decided to take a break from the big theme parks for a couple of days, and went to Ripley's, but I don't think the kids were overly excited by it. I thought this recreation of The Last Supper made entirely with dryer lint was pretty impressive:


And I loved this vampire killing kit, circa 1850:


Cool, huh? ;-) Next stop, Legoland. We discovered this park was geared a little more towards younger children, but there was still some cool stuff to see, like Miniland USA:


They also had some cool lego superheroes and stuff:


While we were there, a massive thunderstorm rolled in, so we called into the shop on our way out for a bit of retail therapy, and headed back to our accommodation to strip off our soaking wet clothes and get comfy and dry. Later that evening we went to Pirate's Dinner Adventure. The food was... average (although leagues better than the dinner at WonderWorks!)... but the service was great, the show was very entertaining, and there was a lot of audience interaction. All in all a good evening out.

Gosh, this post is getting long, and we still have a few days to go. I think I'll leave it here for now, and carry on the tour in another post. Catch you all again soon!!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Nothin' much happenin'...

Our flight over to LA was long and boring. I tried my best to get some sleep, but only managed about an hour. I just can't sleep on planes. I didn't watch a movie in the first nine hours because I was determined to try and sleep, but ended up watching the movie of the guy across the aisle from me, who had fallen asleep with his headphones on. Seems to be fairly common, as many people around me were doing the same thing. There was a girl ahead of the sleeping guy who started watching The Muppets Movie, fell asleep, woke up again, rewinded to where she'd got to before dozing off, watched again, fell asleep again, etc etc. The boys managed to get a few hours, T more than X, but they didn't find the skycouch terribly comfortable, as they had to share the space. They weren't very good at that... I ended up watching the latest Sherlock Holmes movie while eating breakfast in the last few hours of the flight.

I was pleased to find out that our wait at LA wasn't as long and arduous as I thought it would be. It would have been no wait at all if our flight wasn't delayed by over an hour. In fact, if it had been on time, we would've been boarding as soon as we'd arrived at our gate. Oh well... I was also disappointed to find out that the inflight movie was Sherlock Holmes. I could've watched a totally different movie on the first flight. Dammit!

We arrived at Dulles Airport in Washington DC just after 2am, and didn't have too much trouble getting the boys to bed. Deane had managed to get a good deal on a couple of hotel rooms with an adjoining door. Sadly, that good deal was because they were renovating. So we had construction noise to deal with while trying to get some sleep during the morning. It just so happened that the rooms they were working on were directly above us. Typical. Oh yeah, and the ice vending machine outside the door beeped continuously too. Fun times. But wait, there's more! Deane had arranged for a 2pm checkout, since we would be (very) short on sleep, but the front desk failed to notify the cleaning crew, who knocked on our door not once, but twice, trying to get in and clean. Arrrgggh!!!

We woke the kids up around 1pm, packed up and headed to a friend's place, where we stayed that evening. They kindly kicked their oldest daughter out of her room so Deane and I had a bed, and the boys slept in the basement. We had a cook out for dinner, and pumpkin pie and apple pie for dessert. How totally American ;-) Which I guess was the point...

And I saw a squirrel!!! Several actually, but I only got a photo of this one:



The next day, we headed into Washington DC to check out a few bits and pieces:


Here we are with Mr Abraham Lincoln, and a truck-load of tourists


This is the Washington Monument. You can't really tell, it just looks like a bunch of stonework. But let me give you an idea of scale:


See how big it is? See how tiny those people look, that are standing in front of it? You can imagine it's a little difficult to get a picture of a person and the monument, unless you're standing reeeeeeeeally far away from it. Dude, that thing is huge. Much like my friend Abe. And, come to think of it, pretty much everything in this country. Like the first toilet I sat on and nearly fell into because it was three times larger than a normal toilet. I kid you not. It was made for giants.


And of course, no trip to DC would be complete without of picture of the White House. No idea what those guys are doing on the roof. Security? I'm guessing it wasn't golf.

After our brief look around at these sights and a few others (sadly, the reflecting pool is empty as it's undergoing some maintenance. But what else is there to say about it, except that it's... you guessed it... huge) we headed on out and started our trip south to Florida.

We managed to get about halfway, sticking to the I95. We didn't want to take too long to get there, both to save on accommodation, and so we could get started with the theme parks. The next morning, we had a brief visit at the War Between the States Museum in Florence, SC, then stopped again at The Cracker Barrel (although I forget which town we were in for that). My friend had recommended we try the grits and biscuits, so that's what I had:


I also had some 'real' lemonade. (We'd already figured out that if you ask for lemonade here, you don't get Sprite. This stuff had pulp! It was delicious!!) I'd also been told to try the hush puppies. I didn't end up trying them, but X got some with his lunch. They looked interesting.

After we had full tummies, we were off again, (seeing this road sign on the way, and stopping to get some water. I think Deane just wanted to be able to say he'd been there ;-P)



...and arrived at our destination by the evening. It took a little while to get the kids settled - they're finding it a little difficult to adjust to the time difference - but it was nice to be out of the car.

Today was just a lot of fluffing around - getting settled into our accommodation (the place is ginormous!!! We went on a tour, and were driven around on a cart. It would take you hours to walk it all), shopping for some groceries so we could eat some proper food (The Waffle House totally doesn't count. Although I still want to go to IHOP) and trying to organise what theme parks to visit, when, and for how long. Tomorrow, we're into it!! The boys are gonna freak ;-)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

We're outta here!

The countdown is on - only six hours before the plane leaves the ground. Ooh, how exciting! I've done everything I possibly can to be ready, all that's left is putting on shoes and locking the door on the way out.

I finished the Elizabeth cardigan for my niece. I had to break into a third skein, but have decided to make a pair of fingerless mitts for her as well. It's not likely, but on the off chance that there is still enough left, I'll knit a hat too.



Elizabeth cardigan, knit with Malabrigo Arroyo in English Rose. Lovely. It looks a little weird being blocked, but it will look much better on. I spent five minutes coercing T into putting it on for me, just so I could see what it looked like on a person, but I was so distracted by how awful he looked in pink that I couldn't really tell how it fit. Never mind, I'll get some pics of it on my niece when next I'm down that way.

After finishing the cardigan, I cast on the optional round socks for Sock Madness. I've managed to knit just past the heel on the first sock, so if I get bored on the plane or in the airport, I still have most of a foot to knit. I should be back on solid ground before I need to dig out a tapestry needle and scissors to graft the toe together. Otherwise, I'll just have to read I guess...

Good thing I have plenty of books loaded onto Hedwig, all ready to go :-)

Well, I'm gonna go watch a couple of TV programs On Demand to fill in some time before dinner. I'll try and update while we're over in the US, and if I see a squirrel or a Walmart creature, I'll be sure to get a photo!!

Enjoy your week, I know I will ;-)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Six more sleeps

That's right, only six more sleeps before the boys and I head off on our American adventure!! Deane's been over there since last Thursday, having a ball of a time. Drinking at a beach bar in LA, spending evenings at dance bars in Orlando, and today he was driving to Panama City. His time is limited though, because we'll be there soon to ruin all his fun ;-) Mwaaaaahahahahahahaaaaaa!!!

I've already scoped out a bunch of yarn stores that are less than an hour's drive from where we're staying, so on the days we're not being all touristy at Disney World, Universal or Legoland, I'm hoping to do a bit of a yarn-store hop. I have a list of half a dozen nearby, in Orlando, Longwood, Maitland, Winter Haven and Altamonte Springs. If I get any good pics (or yarn!!) I'll be sure to let you know ;-) Ooh, I just thought, wonder if there's some good stores on the road between Washington and Orlando...?

Anywho, the kids have finished school for the term as of about an hour ago, and tomorrow is Good Friday. My mother-in-law is heading up as I type this to stay over the Easter weekend (which will be good - an extra pair of hands to deal with the boys!). We'll be having a sort-of-family dinner on Saturday night - my favourite, roast lamb. Mmmmm... She heads home again on Monday, so I only have to worry about filling in Tuesday and Wednesday for the boys. It'll be interesting to see how they cope with a long-haul flight. I'm hoping they'll sleep for most of it :-) I might too, come to think of it.

Deane kindly advised that as he has hired a small rental car for our road trip, there is minimal luggage space. He asked me to pack a small suitcase.

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A small suitcase. For three people. Ridiculous!!! I think I have managed it though, with only four changes of clothes each to get us through the first few days. From then on we'll have laundry facilities where we're staying, so no big. It certainly presented quite a challenge though! I haven't quite finished yet, there are still a few things to squish in (laptop, assorted chargers, last minute toiletries etc), but all I can say is, thank Bob we have three carry on bags! They'll be able to hold my knitting, kindle, and the boys' Nintendos (for the wait at LAX etc). Perhaps some pyjamas and a change of clothes might be a good idea for them too. I will say one thing - it helps to be organised! I'm not stressing about anything, because I know I've got it sorted. Yay.

I'll even be able to relax about Sock Madness - they've just released the optional round pattern this morning, and the optional round lasts 10-15 days. We should be well settled in our temporary residence by the time the round three specs/pattern are out. As long as I take a couple of yarn options, I should be sweet. It also means I'll have travel knitting! Because the socks are an optional knit, I'm in no hurry to start them, so I can work on my niece's Elizabeth cardigan for now (and possibly finish it before we go), then have the socks to work on while travelling. Awesome :-)

Here's a progress update for the cardi:


Back


Front

This is a lovely knit, and the pattern is easy to follow (all tiKKi's patterns are). It's also helped by the fact that this yarn is absolutely scrumptious!!! Malabrigo Arroyo in English Rose. So delightfully soft! I adore Malabrigo, it never fails to please :-) I'm actually quite a bit further along than these pics show - I've finished the lace and have started on the edging, which I should be able to finish tonight. That leaves the sleeves. Hurrah!

Now the only thing left to panic about is my study - I wanted to get the first half of my second assignment finished before we left, so I would have enough time to do the second half when we got back. I haven't finished it yet, and now there's going to be kids and extra people in the house until we go :-/ Hopefully I'll be able to sneak a few hours in here and there and get it done. That'd be a huge weight off my mind. Fingers crossed!!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Follow-through

It's an age-old threat used by parents the world over.

"If you don't hurry up and get dressed, you'll be going to school in your pyjamas."

I've used that threat before, numerous times. This morning was one such occasion. The boys were up extra early - X had eaten his breakfast before 7am. I wandered downstairs at 6.45am, and got breakfast for T. X continued his morning routine - had a shower, got dressed, brushed his teeth etc. He even made his bed. When he'd finished he sat down to watch TV (which I allow if they've finished everything). T ate his breakfast then sat down to watch TV. I asked him several times over the course of the morning to get dressed, and eventually pulled out the threat, and switched off the TV.

He got as far as getting clothes out.

I figured, at the age of seven, he's past the point now where I should dress him, so I gave him a five minute timer - if he wasn't dressed by the time the microwave beeped, I would take him to school as he was. (By this time X had gotten bored and went to school on his own. Living across the road certainly has its advantages).

So as you can imagine, the timer beeped, and T wasn't dressed. I proceeded to pack his clothes into his bag along with his favourite pair of shoes. I asked if there was anything he wished to tell me (eg: are you sick? Is there a reason why you don't want to go to school, etc etc). With nothing forthcoming, a final "do you want to get dressed now?" and subsequent negative reply, we were off.

He clung like a burr, and cried the whole way to his classroom. There was much questioning and a bit of negotiation (on my part) over the next 15 minutes, but he still refused to get dressed. The bell rang, and all the children filed into class. I carried him in, extracted myself from his death-like grip and handed him to the (amazingly good-natured) teacher, and walked away.

I wonder if he'll still be in his pyjamas when I pick him up this afternoon?

Edited to add: Yes he was. With shoes.