Thursday, May 27, 2010


Back in October, I photographed Jane & Darin for engagement photos. They got married last month and soon I will be able to share their wedding shots.

I love when I tell the guy to whisper something in his fiancee's ear, and it usually ends up being semthing dirty and shocking! Sometime's I tell the guy to say something dirty on purpose just to see the reaction. I wish I knew what he actually said!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spring Break = Orlando Trip

For 6 weeks now I've been thinking I need to blog about our Orlando trip. I really wanted to blog about it while we were on vacation, but not only was I totally worn out by the end of the day when we got back to the room, I had a very hard time using the keypad on Tye's laptop. My blogging would have been full of half sentences and typos. So here's my attempt to recall all of the highlights of the great trip I took with my boys, my best friend, Melanie, and her son Sammy.
Melanie and I have been planing the trip since last fall. We booked a suite at Nickelodeon Hotel, and the kids were very excited about the water park. They asked me nearly every day in February and March how many days were left until we left. I don't think they understood that as excited as they were, Melanie and I were just as excited to get away. We ended up leaving a day and a half earlier than we originally planned to fit in all the stuff we wanted to do and see.
Before we left, I ordered sleep masks for the boys with images of their favorite WWE wrestlers on them. I thought it might help them take more naps in the car, since we would be driving for 2 days and sleeping kids are quiet kids. Bodie popped an Ipod in his ears and put on his mask. He stayed like this through most of Iowa on the first day.

After a pleasant but rainy drive, we spent the night in Springfield, IL. I have to say all 3 boys were pretty good in the car. OK, there was some arguing, bickering and tattling. But it wasn't nearly as bad as we thought it would be. We tied to make lots of stops to avoid restlessness. One of our stops was in Metropolis, IL, home of Superman. It is a small town, but with a large Superman statue and touristy shops. They have some awesome plywood cutouts and we had to grab the photo op!

After another very rainy drive to Chattanooga, then on to Orlando, we were so excited to get to the hotel. I have to say, Nick Hotel was pretty cool. We had a Jimmy Neutron themed suite. There was even shampoo that looked like green slime.
We had participated in the "Give a Day, Get a Day" program and got free tickets to Disney for volunteering. We had to use them before the blackout date, so we hit Disney World on our first day in Orlando.

We took the bus from the hotel and rode the ferry to Disney World. That alone almost seemed magical. As soon as we entered the park, we saw the parade going by. We spotted Woody, one of Tye's "must-see" characters, dancing in the parade. Tye refused to dance, but did give him a high five! Then we started riding rides for the day. First was the Swiss Family Robinson tree house, followed by Pirates of the Caribbean. Bodie was so scared especially because the ride is so dark. Every time the boat took a little drop or turn in the water he grabbed my arm tighter. When it was all over he realized how fun it was and wanted to go again. He's a photo from the gift shop. Bodie is the one with the skull.

Melanie wanted to ride Splash Mountain, much to the dismay of Sammy and Bodie. Sammy whined the entire 50 minutes we stood in line. Bodie didn't meltdown until we were actually getting on the ride. He bawled the entire time, in anticipation of the 50 foot drop. Tye, Bodie and I sat in front, with Mel & Sammy behind us. It was so fun! We were soaked and as soon as it was over the boys decided the might be convinced to go on it again..."but later".

Tye then met Jessie from Toy Story...

...and after a few more rides, we fulfilled Tye's dream of meeting Buzz. I really think he was the happiest kid on earth at that moment.

Buzz wanted Bodie to join in, but Bodie was too shy. So Buzz came over to him.

The Buzz Lightyear ride was a big hit with the kids...

...but they hated the Stitch ride. The smell was terrible and almost made the boys sick. Sammy loved the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, which was his favorite in the whole park. Bodie said his favorite was the raceway, and Tye liked the Buzz Lightyear ride and Splash Mountain.

The whole day was really magical and I loved every minute with my boys, between riding all the fun rides, the light parade at the end of the day, and even all the waiting in line.
The next day we were off to Universal. Melanie and I had arranged out schedule so we could be at Universal the day the Ellen DeGeneres show was going to be there. As soon as we walked in, we could see the Ellen stages and tried to get a glimpse, but nothing. I decided to get in line to get a few souvenirs, while Mel and the boys stayed to try to see the rehearsal. I heard t-shirt cannons going off and people trying to get them while I was still in line. After my purchase, Tye told me how he caught one of the shirts but some big guy wrestled it away from him. He was bummed for a minute, then we saw Ellen was coming up toward the crowd. We were able to get about 10 feet from her! So the boys saw their first celebrity.
We headed into Universal park. We rode the Jimmy Neutron Blast and saw Shrek in 4D. We met Donkey (from Shrek) and Tye and Sammy went up to meet him. Bodie was of course, being shy again. Donkey called him to come over but he wouldn't. Then he started calling him "Bodie-Booty" which embarrassed him but made him laugh. It was really cute.
We met Lisa and Homer...

...then it started raining. We were soggy the rest of the day. We went on several more rides, like E.T. (we all liked that one) and the Simpson's Ride (we all loved it except Melanie, who thought she was going to throw up). Every ride we went on was great, but the 2 younger boys whined in every line, for fear of the unknown. They kept asking us what each ride was going to be like and would worry until they were in tears, especially Bodie. But after every ride they all would tell how fun it was and how they wanted to go again. Tye, on the other hand, had a very different problem. He had to keep getting out of line to go to the bathroom because he had eaten too many Fiber One granola bars on the trip. Eventually his stomach settled down. I think everyone's favorite ride of the day was Disaster. We loved how we were involved in making the movie "Mutha Nature" featuring The Rock! Ha!

The next day was our day just to hang out at Nick Hotel after a morning trip to Downtown Disney. The kids loved the shops and features of Downtown Disney, especially the spitting Stitch. The boys all wore shirts made by my mother-in-law out of SpongeBob fabric. They counted how many compliments they got on the shirts and were surprised at how many people asked where they could buy one. Tye would proudly beam, "My grandma made them." We got a few gifts to bring back and had lunch at McDonald's, where Melanie and I got to have McRibs (oh, yeah! I hadn't had one in 7 years)! We came back to the hotel and spent the afternoon in the Lagoon Water park. It was just too cold to be swimming, but we stayed until the sliming, which was disappointing. I think the kids liked the rest of the waterpark, but looked forward to getting slimed and it just didn't happen because the crowd was too big. Oh, well.
We stood in line to meet Squidward. The whole thing was very funny. He saw the boys' shirts and the lack of his image on them, and to give the boys a hard time, acted like he didn't want to take photos with them. The sour, sad look on his face made it even better. Then we headed out to Red Lobster for nice dinner.

The plan on Tuesday was to go to Sea World. But the kids weren't too keen on spending another day standing in line, and I wasn't keen on shelling out big bucks to listen to them whine. We decided to pack up and head home early, with a pit stop in Clearwater. My boys have never been to a real beach and were very excite to feel the waves of the ocean. Clearwater's beach was very nice, with soft sugar-like sand and warm water.
Tye spent almost the entire time in the water. He loved trying to jump with the waves, which made his trunks nearly fall off. He even got stung by jellyfish a few times (not badly) and still stayed in the water.
Melanie buried Sammy in the sand, and Bodie helped by adding boobs.

I think the boys would have loved to just stay at the beach the whole time. We had to practically drag them off the beach to get on the road. We bought back lots of sand with us, most unintentionally.

After a day of driving through Georgia, we stayed the night in Chattanooga. We woke up and headed to Rock City. I had read about it on the internet a few weeks before we left and it sounded so kitschy, I was so excited to go. It turned out to be a lot of fun! We squeezed through passages between boulders, panned for gems, peered out over Lookout Mountain, and visited a day-glow village of gnomes.

After another long day of driving, with a stop in Nashville to see the Parthenon Museum, we took two more days to get home. We stopped in Peoria, IL the last night and the boys went swimming.

There was an incident where a mother lovingly snapped a towel at her son and inadvertently gave him a big welt on his belly, only after his big brother gave him a big welt on his back. Okay, I was that mother. And I felt terribly about it, especially after he said like he felt like a test dummy. He was a very good sport about it, but I'm sure I will never get him stop teasing me about it.

The kids were really good in the car considering how much time we spent in it and I'm so thankful Melanie and I decided to take this vacation. I loved every minute of the trip. I am so glad I decided to put things aside, travel with my best friend and let our boys have a wonderful, magical, and exciting time. As hard as it was to set aside the money for the trip, the whole experience was worth every penny and more. I will treasure all the memories and laughs until the day I die. Thank you Sammy, Melanie, Tye and Bodie for giving me a full heart and so many happy moments!