Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Moving to WordPress

I've decided to move this blog to WordPress. I've had enough of the inability to make the edit window larger. The inability to choose a date using a calendar. What does 07/07/09 mean to you? Blogger has become stagnant.

The new address is http://twnl.wordpress.com/

Posted by Adam

Still No Word From Corbin

It's been over a week since we dropped Corbin off at Camp Winston. He must be having way too much fun since we have yet to receive a phone call from him.

Now, our standards our not too high. One phone call is all we want. We would rather have it in the first week rather then the second week as a way of checking in and making sure that there are no issues - Corbin has a tendency to be unable to communicate concerns, issues or problems with authority.

Several years back, Corbin was identified as having a dairy allergy. The doctor said he should out grow it. When he first went to Camp Winston, they were aware of the allergy, so they kept dairy product away from him. Over the past 18 months, we noticed that Corbin was able to tolerate dairy products.

So last year, we told Camp staff that he could have cheese and other products (but not a full glass of milk - we believe that he is lactose intolerant). Unfortunately, that information did not get communicated and he was not able to enjoy foods such as pizza (well at least not with cheese). He didn't mention anything during his phone call last summer.

We took care of that issue this year. It was wiped off his file. But still, it would be nice to know how camp is going and if there are any issues that we need to discuss with staff.

Posted by Adam

Monday, 13 July 2009

Jeremy Is Having Way Too Much Fun

Tina and I talked with Jeremy yesterday - our third conversation with him since leaving him with my mom.

He is hilarious on the phone. He sounds like he is 10-years old. He has been going to park and playing with the kids their. Tag. Rounders. Even some pretend gun game with some older boys.

If you know Jeremy, you know that he can be friends with anyone. He loves to play.

He has been to McDonalds. He has been to the International Villages. He has been to Ivey's house next door. He has been to the other neighbour next door (they have a Wii). He has been playing in the pool. He even went to some place that has inflatable castles and slides.

Babcia spoils him.

He does miss us, his house, his room, his toys and his guinea pig, but seems content in hanging out with Babcia and Grandpa.

During a previous phone call, he pretended to be Babcia saying "Hi, this is Babcia" is a high pitched voiced. Today, he had fun joking about things he could paint in his room (I intend to paint his room this fall instead of during the summer).

We miss you buddy.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 12 July 2009

A Week Later

Week one without the kids is over. While we miss the boys, it has been nice to not have to meet their every need, demand and want. Sleeping in is a nice benefit. We haven't done much grocery shopping - eating out a few times and eating up what we have in the house.

Tina cleaned up the rec room. The toy bins are back in their normal spot and the toys organized. She did an amazing job with Corbin's room. Won't go into the grisly details of what she found in his room - let's just say that OCD is a pain in the ass. The room looks good. A lot of stuff was taken out and things were given a home on the shelves.

We did some minor shopping on Saturday. Looked at some washer and dryers at Lowes. They have a pair on clearance. Will have to act fast.

We tackled Jeremy's room on Sunday. We moved the filing cabinet downstairs to the Everything Room (had to remove some things to get it fit) and relocated Jeremy's dresser to where the filing cabinet was. This made the room look roomier and more like a bedroom and less like an office (part of our plan to move the office out of his room).

There was plenty of dust and crap everywhere. I gave the room a good wipe down and vacuum. I think Jeremy will be happy with the additional space.

Later, Tina and I went through a whack of file folders and tossed a bunch of stuff. I still have to go through our financial folders.

The house is looking good. Just need to work on our bedroom, the fish tank and just clean, dust and vacuum the rest of house before tackling the great outdoors.

One project I hope to get started before the boys return, is tilling part of the rear yard lawn, levelling the soil and sowing new grass. I'll also be relocating our patio as part of this project. If the lawn turns out, then I'll do the rest during the fall.

We have less than a week left without children. We hope to maximize our work and relaxation time before mayhem (aka Corbin and Jeremy) returns on Saturday.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Childless, Finally

After Jeremy's soccer game Saturday morning we headed to Brantford for our annual "drop Corbin off at Camp Winston" weekend.

Corbin has been looking forward to Camp Winston for about two weeks now. How do we know? He talks about things he did at last year's camp.

We arrived late Saturday afternoon. Jeremy wanted to know if Ivey, the girl from next door was home. My mom said Ivey would be back Sunday. Corbin went straight into playing mode. We had perogies for supper.

On Sunday, Babcia joined us for our trek up to Sparrow Lake. The drive up was uneventful. Exactly one hour from Brantford to the 400/407 interchange (well worth the 10 dollar or so toll). In Orrillia, we stopped for late lunch at Boston Pizza. We arrived at Camp Winston at 2:20 pm.

Corbin immediately wanted to go fishing. Sorry buddy but here is your sleeping bag and your ruck sack. Headed over to Cabin 4 where Corbin showed us his version of unpacking - shoving the ruck sack into the bottom shelf. Okay.

Next, Corbin gave Babcia a tour of the camp under the watchful eye of Kerri, a camp counsellor. Tina headed over to unload the meds and I hung with Jeremy as he played.

About an hour later, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Brantford. Tina drove this segment. Traffic was much heavier due to all the Canada Day vacationers/cottagers returning to the Greater Toronto Area.

We had a quick bite to eat, gave Jeremy hugs and kisses and headed back to Windsor childless. The ride back was quiet - no kids saying they are hungry or need to go pee. What an whirlwind weekend.

Posted by Adam

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Schools Out For Summer

Corbin and Jeremy had their last day of school today. For Corbin that meant finishing Grade 5 and for Jeremy it meant he would be in Grade 1 come September.

Both boys seemed to enjoy school this year. Corbin played on the junior Basketball and Soccer teams. Academically, Corbin had a successful year. His reading is coming along and he seems to learning something. Jeremy had some difficulties, partially a result of vision issues, issues that we hope will correct themselves with glasses.

We have no idea who their teachers will be for 2009/2010. Several teachers and educational assistants have transferred to other schools. Lets hope they are willing to work with us.

Posted by Adam

Heat Wave 2009

Seems that Mother Nature is following the whole change of seasons thing to a tee this year. Not only did June 21 mark the beginning of Summer in terms of the Summer Solstice (and Father's Day), it marked the change from pleasant weather to stinking hot weather.

For about four weeks the air conditioning did not come on. Now, it's on a lot. We went from a very comfortable 22 Celsius to life-draining 34 Celsius (41 if you include the humidex).

I want the humidity to be gone. Now.

Posted by Adam

Monday, 22 June 2009

Soccer Update

With a couple of games in the bag, it's time to recap the soccer season.

First, Jeremy and Corbin are still interested in playing soccer. Hooray. Will see how that interest holds up in the hot weather. Both boys will miss about two weeks worth of soccer due to camp, but I think that will give them a much needed break.

Second, both boys are improving their skills. Jeremy is getting better at throwing the ball in and dribbling it. He needs to work on tighter turns and hanging around in his territory. His coach is impressed with the improvement in his listening skills.

Corbin is becoming a strong defender. He is learning how to take the ball from an opponent and how to block kicks.

I'm hoping that the kids want to play soccer for the next few years. It keeps them busy and it forces Tina and I out of the house.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Point Pelee And Back

Who knew that it takes an hour to get to Point Pelee National Park from Windsor?

Corbin spent the day at Cubs camp at Point Pelee (though the camp was an overnight camp, Corbin went for the day only). Tina drove out in the morning.

I was to pick him it up at 3:00 pm. On Tina's advice, Jeremy and I left Windsor at 2:00 pm. Wow that was a long drive. The Shriner's parade in Leamington did not help. The main road was blocked off at the Heinz plant, so (and other drivers) decided to go around the Heinz plant. But guess who was their - the damn Shriner's. Did a U-turn and got back to the main road, which was open at this point.

Arrived at bug-infested Point Pelee just after three in the afternoon. Walked over to the camp and Corbin was doing an activity with his pack. A few of the Leaders were sitting down and said that Corbin had a great time and they had no problems with him. That was good to hear.

The transition home went smoothly. Corbin gathered his back pack and bike and headed to the van.

We stopped at the Dairy Freez in Northridge for some ice cream. Back in Windsor we did a quick stop at Rogers Video to rent some games for the PS2 (the PS2 section is getting smaller by the week - might be time to upgrade).

It was a tiring but uneventful afternoon.

Posted by Adam

Gooooooooooal!

Jeremy had a soccer game today. Drove out to the Vollmer complex in LaSalle, walked over to the pitch and setup my chair.

Today, Jeremy played defence, forward and goalkeeper. He is getting much better at dribbling with the ball. While in net, he stopped a few shots and made a valiant effort to stop a penalty kick (he did pick the right side though).

On forward, Jeremy actually took the ball to the net and scored. At first, it didn't appear he scored but then every one was walking to the centre of the pitch, so he scored. Yeah Jeremy. He was very excited.

Good game and the kids are starting to get a hang of things.

Posted by Adam

Monday, 1 June 2009

Electricity Can Be Fun

Just before Jeremy's soccer game, I noticed that the lights in the house were doing 'unusual' things like dimming, flickering and all sorts of good things. Oh oh.

Tried some other switches and the same thing. Hmmmm.

Went downstairs and no breakers were tripped. Aye carumba.

I decided that I had to stay home and do something (rant, rave, worry, cry, laugh and anything else that made me look like an idiot). I told Jeremy to get out of his soccer uniform. He wasn't too impressed but rolled along.

The boys were getting anxious, so Bev took them outside. I called Tina to let her know what was going on. She was busy with her works Annual General Meeting. She called Pam & Chris to see if Chris (an electrician by training) could figure out the problem.

Tina came home and shortly after, Chris and Pam showed up. Chris checked the panel and discovered that one of the two phases into our house was dead. That explains why the lights were flickering. I thanked Chris and Pam for stopping by and immediately called the after hours line at Enwin Utilities.

About 30 or so minutes later, Enwin appeared. He took off the meter and told me the good news - the problem was with their line. His plan was to connect a temporary cable between the meter on my house and the meter on the house next door. A few minutes later another Enwin employee stopped by with the cable. It wasn't a complicated procedure and would take all of five minutes to complete.

Well, five minutes took three hours. Seems the neighbour next door wasn't buying any of it. Her husband was not home and there was a language barrier. The Enwin employee identified himself and even had the lady call dispatch. No go. Time to get the on-call supervisor out here.

About 30 or so minutes later, Val comes by and speaks with the neighbour. The answer remained a resounding "NO" and this time she called the police. Fun.

The Enwin employees and supervisor thought of alternatives. About two hours, I told the supervisor, I could wait until the morning for a new cable to be installed - I had partial power to the house (including the fridge) and it wasn't hot or humid (it got cold and windy). The supervisor thanked me for my patience and left.

As the other two Enwin guys were about to leave, the police showed up. They chatted and the police relayed the neighbours concerns to us. In the name of neighbourhood peace, I said I had no problem with waiting till the next day for a fix. So the police talked to the neighbour again and this time she capitulated.

Enwin guys looked at me and I said "I'm not going to turn down full power". So they got the equipment about 10 minutes later were done and we had full power.

My thanks for the Val and the afternoon emergency guys for their patience.

Now I just have to wait for the yard to be dug up. Exciting times.

Posted by Adam

P.S. A huge "THANK YOU" to Tina. You are awesome.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Geocaching

While at Camp Cedarwin, Corbin came across some Scouts who were Geocaching. What is Geocaching? According to Wikipedia:

"Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called "geocaches" or "caches") anywhere in the world.

Treasure. Check. Hunting. Check. Game. Check. Electronic device that tells you where you are. Check. Of course, Corbin is going to like this (and so am I - a geek for electronic gadgets).

So I did some quick research and the GPS receivers start from reasonable $150 up to a whopping $600 plus. Wow. There are so many units with different options. My head started spinning.

I found that a new version of "An Idiots Guide to Geocaching" was being released. One day, after soccer practise, I took Corbin up to Chapters and picked up the book. He was excited. I told him that after he was done reading the book and after I had a chance to review the key chapters, that, then and only then, would I look into buying a GPS unit. He agreed.

Corbin has been reading the book. He is not finished yet. I'll have to encourage him, so we can start this new hobby during the summer.

Stay tuned.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 17 May 2009

A Day at the Toledo Zoo

Tina suggested that we should go to the Toledo Zoo this weekend. It's been a while since all four of us have gone. They were calling for sunny but cool conditions - perfect zoo weather if you ask me.

We headed out in the morning, leaving around 9:30 AM. Traffic at the Ambassador Bridge was light. We only had to wait a minute or so. No problems at US Customs.

We stopped at Denny's in Monroe. Wow. The place had been renovated. Looks good. The boys asked and received Mac & Cheese for breakfast. Tina and I had the All-American Slam. The food was hot and tasty.

About 20 minutes or so later we arrived at the Toledo Zoo. During fall of 2008, the parking lot was expanded. Much more parking available now.

The cool weather meant that the animals were much more active. The boys were enthralled by two bird 'fighting' with each other. In the Primates exhibit, we were amused by the show put on by four Gibbons as they battled each other for some Romaine Lettuce. A dominant female would just grab the lettuce out of the hands and feet of the other Gibbons. Very amusing. A baby Gibbon moved around looking for her share. It was quite the display.

In the Gorilla exhibit, Jeremy could not believe how close the gorillas were - right at the window. After viewing the fishies and the amphibians, we grabbed some ice cream before Jeremy and I checked out the hippos and the elephants.

We saw a dominant penguin stand it's ground with another penguin.

The polar bears were pacing back and forth and I managed to get some excellent photos. The boys enjoyed the train ride. Jeremy got to see the giraffes and Corbin got to take some pictures.

It was 3:30 PM. Wow time flew by. A quick stop in the gift shop before heading home.

Canadian customs was full, but it only took about 20 minutes to get through. It was a great family outing.

Posted by Adam

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Strike Through the Eyes of a 10-Year Old

On the way back from soccer practise, Corbin asked when will he be attending karate classes again.

"Not until the strike is over" I responded.

"Oh, Sensei is on strike' Corbin said.

"No, the Community Centres are closed during the strike" I replied.

Well that made Corbin mad. "I'm gonna call the president" Corbin stated.

"The president of what" I asked.

"The President of America" Corbin retorted.

"That is different country" I said.

"Well, then I'm going to call 911" Corbin shot back.

"You mean 311" I asked. "Ya, 311" Corbin confirmed.

"Well they are on strike too. Some people are working there, but not as many as usual" I explained.

"What the? Then I'll go 311. I used the equipment on the school trip. I sat in a chair and used the headset." Corbin fired back.

That sums up Corbin's view of the strike.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day to all the wonderful moms out there. Enjoy your special day.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 2 May 2009

One Parent and One Child

Tina and Corbin headed out early this morning for a full day of Cub Scout activity at Camp Cedarwin. The day was filled with activities that kept Corbin and his troop very busy. Digging for things. Orienteering. Trails. Geocaching. Rope courses. All sorts of thing.

Jeremy and I stayed in Windsor. First order of the day was to pull out dandelions. My arms were hurting after that job. Then I filled in the holes where the dandelions were with a mixture of soil and seed.

Next up, get the lawnmower running. I needed a new air filter. Hmm, let's make hot dogs for lunch instead. Oops ran out of propane. A quick trip to Canadian Tire was necessary. The place was busy. So much for a recession. Had to wait at the checkout. Got both propane tanks filled - should last the summer.

Made us hot dogs before working on the lawnmower. Jeremy helped me remove the spark plug. I cleaned the plug, replaced the air filter and changed the oil. The mower started on the first pull. I cut the grass. Jeremy played in the backyard. At one point when I was cutting the front yard, he came out with his lawnmower to help me. Cute.

After 5:00 pm, Tina and Corbin returned home. Corbin had a great time. He found a new hobby: geocaching. I knew what it was. So I told him that I'll look into getting a GPS unit and we can start hunting.

Tina was hungry. She went out to get some fish and chips. Tasty and filling. A good way to end the day.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 26 April 2009

A Hot Weekend and the Return of Angela

Tina's friend, Angela, visited us this weekend. Tina and Corbin picked her up in London, which worked out well for everyone.

Angela brought the kids a present. Thanks for the Nerf guns, Ang. I'll be finding Nerf balls for the next 20 years.

On Friday, Angela helped Tina and Pam get Pam's house ready for Chelsea's Sweet 16 birthday party. Yes, Chelsea is 16-years old. Time really does fly by.

Jeremy and Corbin loved having Angela over as she spent lots of time with them. That gave Tina and myself some time to do some chores and errands.

Posted by Adam

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Wayne Landed On His Feet

The dealership - Jerome Taylor Pontiac GMC - where we just purchased the Montana SV6 from shut down for good. Mr. Taylor was unable to secure mortgage financing and had to close down his 16-year old dealership. Tina and I were kind of bummed because we really didn't want to start a new relationship with another dealer. But it was what it was.

Toady, out of the blue, Wayne Sanford, our go-to guy at Jerome Taylor, called and left a message that he was at the Gus Revenberg, a GM dealership about 10 minutes east of us. Tina called back and he just wanted us to know that he was alive and kicking and that we could still rely on him for top-notch service and assistance.

We felt good that Wayne landed on his feet and that he took the time to let us know. If you are looking to purchase a vehicle, we highly recommend you speak with Wayne Sanford at Gus Revenberg. Let him know that Tina and Adam sent you.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Feels Nice To Do Some Outdoor Work

With Corbin's help I unloaded the van and had him help me with a few chores. I had him bring out the indoor plants into the garage.

In the garage, I asked Corbin to sit on a milk crate and hang out with me for a few minutes. He turned on the radio and I emptied a bag of potting soil into the new wheelbarrow. Took it over to the hose and with Corbin's help, I moistened the soil.

I then began re-potting the plants with Corbin's help. Even got him to shove his hands into the new soil. No complaints. After a little while Corbin got bored, and asked if he could water his tree (a Rose of Sharon). I said sure, after which is hung out in the backyard for a while. I continued my re-potting.

I decided that a Coffee Tree plant would not come back inside and planted it outdoors. I still have to re-pot my Yucca Tree plant but that requires some hacking - maybe next weekend. I washed the old pots and let them dry in the warm sun. I also hosed down the easel so Tina could use it with Jeremy.

Back in the house, I worked on replacing the old thermostat with the new one I purchased. Installation was simple and straightforward. The packaging says 15 minutes or less for installation and it took less than 15 minutes. There is an error on the packaging in that it says you need two AAA batteries. You need three.

With that work done, I relaxed and enjoyed the warm and sunny weather.

Posted by Adam

A Baseball Glove, A Wheelbarrow and A Sub

Taking advantage of the warm weather, I spent late morning and early afternoon running some errands with Corbin in tow.

At first, he didn't want to come, but like everything with Corbin, you have to tell him upfront what you intend to do. I said "don't you need a new baseball glove". He said "Yes" and reluctantly put on his shoes.


At Canadian Tire I looked at some BBQ accessories. Need to get a new ignition for the BBQ - ours lasted almost nine years. I also purchased a new Honeywell thermostat with touch screen and 7-day programming to place the existing Honeywell thermostat with 5-2 day programming. And Corbin did find a new baseball glove. He also tried out the riding mowers.

Next it was off to Lowes. There, I purchased a new 6 cubic feet steel wheelbarrow, some potting soil and some new plastic pots for the indoor plants. I pushed Corbin around while he sat on the flatbed cart. We had subs at Subway before heading back home.

I spent quality time with my Corbin, who seemed to handle himself with no problems. Arriving home, I realized that there were a few things I forgot to look at. Naturally.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Easter In Brantford 2009 Edition

Travelled to Brantford for the Easter weekend.

Headed up on Friday in the new Montana SV6 aka Tina's van. Plenty of cops along the way but travelling at under 120 kph seemed to be okay. The boys watched movies on their DVD players, I played games on my Nintendo DS and Tina drove the whole way.

The next two and a half days were okay for the most part. The boys got their Babcia time. Tina and I managed some time alone, but not as much as we planned for.

Saturday morning we headed to church for the blessing of Easter basket. Jeremy was grumpy but managed to make it through the 15-minute ceremony. Next it was to the cemetery where my mom planted a flower at my father's grave.

While my mom was praying, Jeremy asked some questions about my dad. Yes, he is dead and this is where his buried. Then, with a straight face, Jeremy asked if the purse and plastic bag hanging off the cross were my dad's. We tried to contain our laughter. My mom had to walk away to avoid bursting out loud. I explained to Jeremy that that was Babcia's purse. "Oh" he said. I'm sure my dad was chuckling too.

Next, we did some quick shopping at Sears - seems that the whole Szymczak family needed new socks - "Sock Crisis 2009" - followed by a very short trip to Future Shop.

Tina and I went out later to get some things from Shopper's Drug Mart for my mom and took a drive around Brantford. Supper was excellent as usual - not many leftovers. The boys played and played and played.

Sunday was much the same. We headed back to Windsor after dinner. I drove back. Traffic was usual and no police this time. A good time had by all.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Karate Update

Corbin has been in the intermediate class for a couple of months. Fewer kids but more demanding.

Sensei finally gave Corbin his certificate and removed a yellow band from his belt. Woo hoo.

Corbin needs to concentrate on improving and moving up in class rather than tangling with another boy. Mom and I know you can do it Corb.

Jeremy is excited about beginning karate classes. We may sign him up in September.

Posted by Adam

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Montana SV6

Picked up our newest vehicle, a 2009 Pontiac Montana SV6. This vehicle replaces the Pontiac Wave we leased over the past four years. We still have our 2003 Pontiac Montana.

Originally, we were looking at a Pontiac Vibe, but I saw that GM was throwing in the 'kitchen sink' on Montana SV6 - cash price of $15,498. At first when I saw the ad, I thought there was a catch. Nope. None.

We stopped by Jerome Taylor on Saturday and sat down with Wayne Sanford, our guy at the dealership. He got a non-grey (dark blue) Montana for us to test drive. We both took a drive down the 401 and local roads. The SV6 engine responded well.

While the vehicle was not loaded (no cruise control, no extended version, no roof rack, no aluminum wheels like the 2003 Montana) it did come with power windows and locks, remote locks, OnStar Safe and Sound for one year, disc brakes on all four wheels and a few other goodies.

In other words, it was the perfect vehicle for city driving and short trips (2 or so hours or less). Tina did not mind not having cruise control. She did feel much more comfortable in the SV6 and generally liked the vehicle.

So we headed back to the dealership and finalized the deal. And what a deal. Between the GM Cash Delivery Allowance, the GM Lease Loyalty bonus, the $1,000 in lieu of the extended maintenance, 2-year OnStar and 2-year XM radio, and a few other bonuses from the dealer, the total discount was $10,100. A $25,500 MSRP vehicle was being sold to us for $15,400. We used about $1,300 of our GM dollars. The walk-out-the-door price was $17,700 (taxes and transportation included). Wow.

When we picked up the vehicle, Wayne still couldn't believe the price. We couldn't believe the price. Wayne gave us a tour of the vehicle and setup the OnStar account for us. The vehicle comes with 1-year of Safe & Sound and 30 minutes of phone time. We purchased an additional 100 minutes for $19.99. The minutes are good for the year and can be used anywhere in Canada and the US (no roaming or long-distance fees).

We had no problems with the Wave and the lease - in fact, part of the discount included the last months payment on the Wave. After Wayne attached the licence plates, we shook hands, thanked Wayne and off we were. I found it hard to keep up with Tina. She was in heaven.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 22 March 2009

March Break - Second Half

Jeremy attended a two-day day camp at WETRA (where Corbin's goes for horseback riding). Tina and Corbin spent some time together and I was back at work.

The weekend was spent at home. Corbin went to karate and we did some shopping.

It was a quiet and somewhat relaxing March Break - and the weather wasn't too bad this year.

Posted by Adam

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

March Break - First Half

Unlike past March Breaks, we had no travel plans, largely because of the Disney World trip in January.

The first half of March Break saw me doing as little as possible. Yup, I was King of Loafing. I did a few things here and there, but not much.

We did some things as a family, such as, going to the park, going for drive in the 'country', going to play basketball in the school yard and a trip to the Detroit Science Center.

Played some video games with boys - Corbin earned two rental video games.

All in all, not a bad March Break so far.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Home Alone

I took Corbin to Karate class, while Tina took Jeremy to a birthday party.

Corbin did well in his class - only having to do a set of push ups once. Despite his physical tics, Corbin appears to be paying attention and is learning new moves. He just needs to practise more.

It was time to take Bev back to Goderich. Tina decided to take both boys with her to give me some time alone and do some things around the house.

The break from the boys was greatly appreciated.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Corbin And Me

It has been a crazy week. I don't know if it is the weather, but the boys needed a break from each other.

So, Tina and Jeremy travelled up to Goderich this weekend to bring Bev back to Windsor for the week. Corbin and I stayed in Windsor.

The weekend went well. I let Corbin overdose in Playstation 2 and movies, while cleaned around the house and did load after load of laundry.

We split a Delissio Pizza. Corbin loved it so, we'll be getting it again instead of delivered pizza - it's much cheaper.

He didn't give me any problems at bed time and slept in on Sunday.

A good weekend in Windsor.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Well That Was Fun

Our boys fall in the "love playing with toys, but hate cleaning them up" category.

Jeremy is an expert at maximizing the 'spread' of toys throughout the house. Sometimes every room in the house - including the bathroom and the laundry room - will have a toy or two (or 30) in it.

Our house is not that big and when the toys start to migrate, it drives me crazy (which in turn drives Tina crazy). Two weeks ago, Tina cleaned up the house, including the crawl space and the toys. She did a terrific job. I was happy.

All was well. Until the boys made a mess.

So, like all other parents, we told them to clean it up. That went over like a lead balloon. Neither child was capable of cleaning up. They couldn't sort Star Wars toys into one bin and animal toys into another.

After repeated warnings, Tina grabbed some garbage bags and we started filling them up with toys. That pushed Jeremy over the edged. He cried his guts out. He even kicked Tina at one point. I found the crying amusing, but I did like filling up those bags. It felt good.

Now the toy bins sit empty on the shelf. The bags are in the garage and they boys, especially Jeremy, will have to sort them and then put them away. Our plan is to temporarily 'retire' some of the toys to minimize the messes and to help the boys concentrate on a few toys. Then we will rotate the toys to keep things fresh.

Posted by Adam

Monday, 16 February 2009

Cleaning the House Via Brantford

Tina made a proposition I could not refuse: take the boys to Brantford and she would clean up the house, crawl space included.

By 4:00 pm I was out on the road and Tina was starting her cleaning project. I told her that any garbage can go in the garage and that I would take care of it.

So I spent the weekend in Brantford, where Babcia entertained the boys for a couple of days and I did nothing. Not a bad deal.

I came back to a pile of crap in the garage (yeah) and a very clean and tidy house (double yeah).

Happy Valentines Day sweety.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 1 February 2009

One Night With No Kids

With Tina's mom in town, Tina and I decided to spend Saturday night in the Detroit area to have some together time with no kids.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Belleville, Michigan. It wasn't that far shopping or from Windsor.

After checking in to the hotel, we drove out to the Ruby Tuesdays at Michigan and S Canton Center Road. Then we stopped by Lowes and Target before returning to the hotel.

The next morning, we grabbed breakfast at the awesome breakfast bar and then hung out in our room until 11 AM or so. We packed up and headed over to IKEA to do some browsing and shopping. We purchased a simple desk for Corbin and a few other things. Then we drove around eventually ending up in Auburn Hills.

We had a late lunch/early supper at Olive Garden before heading over to Great Lakes Crossing for some more browsing and shopping. Then it was back home.

An excellent and relaxing weekend. Thanks Bev (who watched Corbin) and Lauralie (who took Jeremy for the weekend).

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Disney Revisited

It's been just over a week since the Disney World trip. What an amazing vacation.

It was the first time that we have flown together as a family. Our previous vacations were all road trips. It was nice not having to worry about finding a gas station or place to eat or driving for 6 or so hours. Airport security was not as bad as I originally anticipated - I still think it is a farce, nothing more than security theatre - but that was only because the lines were not too long.

The best resource if this will be your first trip to Disney or if you have no been a long time is to buy a copy of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. It is an amazing source of information providing all sorts of details including positive and negative feedback from visitors on every thing Disney World.

Though we did not use them in the end, the touring plans will save valuable time on busier days. The information in the book we found most useful was the description of all the sit down restaurants, the rides and the shows.

Also coming in handy via the website TouringPlans.com (purchasing the book gives you free access to all of the website for a year) was a crowd level guide and which parks you should visit and which parks you should avoid. Helps you plan which park to attend on which day to improve your experience.

Initially we began planning our trip using the vacation planner at the Walt Disney World website, but the number of options and so forth made it difficult to plan it. I finally went to our local CAA (AAA) office and went over the trip. I booked it.

Advantages of booking through CAA? You get all documentation and items in one package. Also, the travel agent will check to see if there are any better deals on your hotel portion. We got a package that was about $100 cheaper than originally planned PLUS a $200 gift card to use at the park. We booked our restaurants through CAA - a time and money saver since there is no toll-free number for Disney Dining (though it is my understanding that the restaurant reservation system should be online in the near future, if not already)

Disney Magical Express - the bus that takes you between the Disney World and Orlando International Airport - comes highly recommended. Don't let the long line at DME check in scare you. It moves along at a good pace. That said, this would be a good time for the rest of your party to visit the washroom, grab a snack or drink, or to change into more appropriate clothes. It was nice not to have to worry about lugging your luggage and storing it at hotel if you arrive before 4:00 PM.

The parking situation at Disney is not well documented nor well explained. When you check in at a Disney resort, you are given a parking pass. This is your ticket to free parking throughout Walt Disney World. What they don't explain is how to use it when visiting the hotels - you usually need your Park Pass and sometimes a picture ID. At some resorts you can swipe your card for automated access.

We used our AAA/CAA Diamond Parking pass whenever possible. No problem using the pass at Magic Kingdom. Diamond parking was not available at Epcot during our stay and we never drove to Hollywood Studios (choosing the boats instead). We did encounter a problem at Animal Kingdom in that the Cast Member did not believe our passes were real. I told her that was a problem between Disney and AAA/CAA.

The Disney Dining Plan seemed to work out, especially at lunch. We had absolutely no problems using the plan - most Cast Members were helpful in maximizing the value of the plan. Because it wasn't hot during our stay, we found that we didn't drink or snack as much during our visits to the park. So we used the snack credits to get a bunch of fruit and baked goods to use as our breakfast. We did bring bagels, instant oatmeal and a few other pre-packaged foods with us to cut down on breakfast costs.

The Boardwalk Villas are fully equipped. Dishwasher. Stove. Microwave. Washer. Dryer. Utensils, cookware and dishes. You could cook a meal if you wanted to. Best part? Housekeeping would wash everything for you. We always had two single load boxes of detergent. Having the washer and dryer was a god send. We were able to pack half the clothes, freeing up room for souvenirs on the trip back home.

We didn't see every single attraction or spent the entire day at every park. The longest day was at Magic Kingdom - where we did the majority of attractions. The shortest day was at Animal Kingdom - where we visited a single area. We didn't get a chance to checkout World Showcase at Epcot. But that was a good thing. It gives us the opportunity to check out 'new' attractions the next time we visit. And there will be a next time.

Posted by Adam

Friday, 16 January 2009

Disney World - Day 6 - Home Sweet Home

Back to A Cold Reality

The Disney Magical Express was on time and the driver loaded our bags. The bus was full and we made one stop before heading to Orlando International Airport. The driver was a hoot. Making jokes and telling funny stories.

The airport was busy but the check in at Spirit Air was light. I used the self-service machine to get our boarding passes and luggage tags before handing our luggage to one of the staff. Then it was up to departures and getting through security. Fortunately, airport staff directed us to the family line and we proceeded quickly through the area - though I did have to take off my belt. Really?

A fast tram ride to our airside terminal and then a period of waiting. Our flight was pushed back about 45 minutes - it was late from Puerto Rico. But when it arrived at the gate, staff emptied and boarded the plane very quickly. Then the pilot was gunning it to the runway to avoid waiting to take-off.

The flight was uneventful. Those of us with a NintendoDS played it, while others read books or did crossword puzzles. There were no clouds between Orlando and Detroit, thereby offering an amazing view of the lit up cities below. The descent into Detroit was wild but smooth.

We had to walk a good distance before making our way down to the baggage claim section. While the rest of the gang waited for our bags, I put on my leather coat and readied myself for the extreme cold outside, hoping that our van would start with no problems.

It was freezing cold outside. I quickly found the van and turned key. No hesitation. Started right away. Turned on the heat and fans to full and left the garage. Tina had the luggage ready. As I parked the van she came out and I got the rest of the luggage. None of us could believe how cold it was.

No problem through Canadian customs. We grabbed a couple of pizzas at Little Caesar's for a very late supper. Guinea the Guinea Pig was happy to see us.

It was nice to be home after an amazing vacation. Thank you Babcia.

Posted by Adam

Disney World - Day 6 - Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Redux

It was our last day at Disney today. We showered, ate breakfast and finished packing. An itemized bill was left under our door and there was no need to check out if all was in order. The luggage was left with Bell Services and we headed to the boat dock to take the boat to Hollywood Studios.

My original plan was for us to go to Magic Kingdom. However, since we had done most of the attractions in Magic Kingdom, we wanted that experience to remain positive. So Tina and I decided the night before to give Hollywood Studios another try. It was closer to the hotel which meant we could spend more time in the park before coming back to the hotel for the trip back to Orlando International Airport.

It was cool - jeans and a sweater were appropriate attire. The boys had mitts and hats on. But it was very sunny, making for a pleasant day. We arrived after 9:30 AM and the park was not as busy as it was on Monday.


We managed to make it in time for the Jedi Training Academy - a live show that children participate in. To our relief, both Corbin and Jeremy were chosen to participate. The kids were given Jedi robes and lightsabers. Jeremy had some difficulty putting on his robe, so the 'Jedi Master' helped him out - Jeremy was front and centre.

The Jedi Master trained the kids in how to use the lightsaber. Then out of nowhere, Darth Vader appeared with two Stormtroopers. Darth Vader challenges the children to a one-on-one battle to see if they will join him. I don't think Jeremy or Corbin will ever forget this. All the kids were given certificates.

We took in some other shows and took some pictures with Power Rangers and Lightning McQueen and Mater. Another spin on Toy Story Mania (of course) before taking the Great Movie Ride - an attraction that takes you through various movie scenes and includes both live and animatronic characters.
Other attractions included Muppets 3-D (a show that needs some serious updating) and Prince Narnia (Tina wasn't too impressed).

Lunch was at the ABC Commissary. We did some more shopping and watched a street performance of a director filming a scene.
While Tina got our free 5 x 7 photo, Jeremy and I sat on a bench. The movie director introduced himself to Jeremy who had him audition for a scene. Jeremy played along. For his effort, Jeremy received a 'gold' plated cup and a business card.

It was time to leave Hollywood Studios and return to the hotel to wait for Disney Magical Express. While saddened to leave the park, we couldn't have finished on a better and happier note.

Posted by Adam

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Disney World - Day 5 - Cape May Cafe

Seafood Fare

Knowing that we wouldn't have the rental car on our last night at Disney, I had booked a reservation at Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club Resort which is across from the Boardwalk Inn and Villas. So no need to travel far tonight to eat.

We caught a boat over to the Beach Club and walked from the dock to the restaurant. Didn't have to wait too long to be seated but the table they were going to put us at was awkward with a column between two people. I asked to be seated at another table. If you have an odd number of people - like five - the seating is awkward at Cape May Cafe.

The boys had their usual food. Macaroni, pizza, chicken fingers and so on. I filled up on some shrimp, fish fillets and chowder. Everyone else enjoyed the dinner and especially loved the desert selection. The food was good and hot, but nothing to get excited over. If you love clams, this is the place to come. Next time we'll probably try the Flying Fish at the Boardwalk.

Full of food, we strolled back along the boardwalk to the hotel. It was cool but it was nice to get some exercise and fresh air after a good meal.

Posted by Adam

Disney World - Day 5 - Animal Kingdom

A Short Day

Decided to sleep in today and take it easy. We set off to Animal Kingdom, arriving before 10:00 AM. It was noticeably cooler today, but it was sunny.


Parking was interesting in that I had to put up with a Disney employee lecturing me about the Diamond Parking Pass. She was telling us that the coupon in our book is not valid - that it was a copy and that we were supposed to have a card. I said the coupon is not a copy and that any issue she had should be taken up with her management, not me. Eventually, I parked in the Diamond parking area and we walked to the front entrance. I complained at the customer service desk about that experience.

On our way in, we could smell the animals.
We visited only two areas of Animal Kingdom: Discovery Island and Dinoland U.S.A. We took in the "It's Tough to be a Bug!", a 3D show that included crawling bugs in your seat. Jeremy was afraid of the show, but the rest of us liked it.

Next, we booked it over to "Finding Nemo - The Musical". We made it just in time, so no waiting in line. This was a live show based on the Finding Nemo movie and everyone loved it, even the kids. It was an interesting adaptation of the movie and included performers moving through the audience. Very well done and kept the attention of both our five-year old and 10-year old.


A short walk to Dinoland U.S.A. Corbin and I took a spin on Primeval Whirl - a spinning roller coaster - while Tina and Jeremy went on TriceraTop Spin - another Dumbo/Magic Carpet clone. Tina bought some tokens for the boys and they played a few carnival games.

Then we spent some time in the gift shop, where we all bought something. I purchased a WDW baseball cap, Jeremy picked out a bunch of stuff, Corbin a few things and Tina picked up some gifts.

It was close to lunch time so we grabbed a bite to eat at Restaurantosaurus.
On the way out we listened to a band play African music. Jeremy danced like there was no tomorrow.

We walked back to the parking lot and I dropped the gang off at the hotel because I had to bring the rental car back to the Dolphin Hotel.
We took it easy in the afternoon, hanging out in the hotel. My mom and Tina went out to the Boardwalk to do some browsing and shopping.

The boys and I chilled out in the room, watching TV and playing games on our Nintendo DS. I started getting some things ready for packing.

Posted by Adam

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Disney World - Day 4 - Chef Mickey's

Character Dining Experience #2

Tonight was the 'main' character dining experience - Chef Mickey's.


We drove up to the Contemporary where the security guard gave us a third option for parking - drop the passengers at the front door and then park in the Valet Parking lot. Thank you very much. I do have to say it's nice to have a vehicle.


It was busy at Chef Mickey's. They are renovating a part of the restaurant so space is limited. About 20 or so minutes later, our buzzer buzzed. Tina had wanted a quit corner but that was another 30 minute wait. We were shown a table near the buffet and only beside one table, so that worked for us.

As we got our food from the buffet, the characters would come around. Donald Duck surprised Tina and the boys. Corbin had fun talking about Donald's misadventure in Philharmagic. The buffet was your typical Disney fare - there was lots of food. The highlight food wise was the desert bar. Soft serve ice cream and all sorts of toppings plus cakes and cookies. Watch out if you have a sweet tooth.

Other visitors included Goofy, Pluto and Minnie. The boys hugged the characters and posed for pictures. It made for a longer than usual dining experience.

It took a while for Mickey to come our area - be forewarned, seems everyone wants his autograph. But he did make it to our table and we took the mandatory picture or two. The boys ate it all up - the food and characters.


We purchased a picture of the five of us along with standard picture of the Disney characters. My mom stopped in a store to buy an album before we drove back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation.


Posted by Adam

Disney World - Day 4 - Epcot

Future World

The day began like any other. Showers. Breakfast. Getting our stuff together. I didn't feel like walking to the front of Epcot so we drove over. It was cool but very sunny.

Babcia in front of Spaceship Earth
Epcot was already buzzing with activity. Corbin and I headed over to Mission: Space (choosing the non-spinning version). Then Tina, Corbin, Jeremy and myself took a spin on Test Track. Everyone loved the ride, especially Jeremy who liked the cold and hot rooms and the fast part of the ride.

All five of us went on Spaceship Earth. The boys liked the interactive exhibits inside the pavilion while Babcia was amazed at the electronic post card with a picture of her from the ride. Corbin and I went on Soarin', which was a cool ride - Corbin ducked when the golf ball came towards us.


Corbin and Jeremy Inside a Shark
Other attractions we visited included "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" - which needs an update and Living With the Land - a ride that the kids actually found interesting.

Trying out the exhibits in Spaceship Earth
We grabbed lunch at the Sunshine Seasons food court in the Land Pavilion. It has an excellent selection of foods, deserts and drinks. One of the best food courts at Disney and it was recently renovated.

Jeremy on the edge of his seat
Just after 1 PM or so, we were done with Epcot. We decided not to explore World Showcase, because the boys were already losing steam - and we like to end things on a high note.

Tina and Jeremy headed to the hotel, while Babcia, Corbin and myself took a trip to a nearby outlet mall (which turned out to be a disappointing visit).


Posted by Adam

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Disney World - Day 3 - Crystal Palace

Character Dining Experience #1

We had no idea what to expect from Character Dining except that it can be a chaotic experience. The characters at Crystal Palace are: Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger and Winne the Pooh.

Fortunately, we had an early reservation for the Crystal Palace. That meant it wasn't too busy inside. In fact, it wasn't too crazy nor too loud. Perfect after a full day at Magic Kingdom, especially a wet afternoon.

Standard Disney fare at the buffet. Prime Rib and Rotisserie Chicken were the feature items. The kids ate up the Mac & Cheese with Mickey shaped pasta, chicken nuggets and french fries.

I ate my fill of food. Going up several times. Everyone had a great time. The boys got to follow the characters around the restaurant in a parade not once but twice. This was the perfect ending to an awesome day.

Eeyore
Piglet

Winnie the Pooh
Posted by Adam

Disney World - Day 3 - Magic Kingdom

A Great Day

Time to experience Magic Kingdom in a full day visit that also included Character Dining at the Crystal Palace. They were calling for some light rain in the afternoon, so we made sure to take our rain ponchos and umbrellas. Drove to the parking lot and walked over to the monorail station at the Ticket and Transportation Center.

We arrived about 20 minutes before the official opening. Tina positioned herself to rent a stroller and Corbin and I positioned ourself near the front to head over to Tommorowland and take a spin on Space Mountain.

Ready For Takeoff
It all worked out. Corbin and I didn't have to wait at Space Mountain. In fact, Corbin was able to sit in the first car of the train. He was scared and excited - I reassured him that Space Mountain has no loops. He loved the ride. FYI - Space Mountain is closing in March or April for a refurbishment that should take about 6 to 9 months. Babcia, Tina and Jeremy were waiting for us.

Mad Hatter and Alice in Wonderland posing with Corbin
Next it was a spin on the Astro Orbiter (one of Jeremy's choices), Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and the Tommorowland Speedway. Corbin had a chat with the Mad Hatter and Alice in Wonderland before the boys and I took a spin on the Mad Tea Party (another Jeremy 'must go on' ride).

Then it was time to line up and wait at Dumbo The Flying Elephant. Tina took a great picture of me waving and Jeremy waving AND sticking out his tongue. Sure to become a Szymczak classic. We did a few more rides and shows in the area before a frustrating wait in line to get an autograph from Winnie the Pooh and friends.

Dumbo The Flying Elephant
It started to gently rain. It was still warm but we put on our rain ponchos. A few more attractions before grabbing yet another filling lunch. Some more rides and shows before heading over to Pirates of the Caribbean.

Argh Matey, Give me your gold
We spent a lot of time in the gift shop at Pirates of Caribbean. A long time. But we used our $200 gift card to get a bunch a stuff that we had delivered to our hotel (that service comes in very handy). It was still raining but we did go on the Jungle Cruise. Corbin and I went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The next attraction was the Haunted Mansion, which was a hit with the boys, especially the part where they flip your car around and you see a ghost sitting beside you. Freaky.

Posing with Buzz
Decided to go back to Tomorrowland and do some of the attractions we skipped over in the morning. The boys posed with Buzz Lightyear. We had done much of Magic Kingdom - or at least enough before anyone got tired and ornery. It was time for our first Character Dining experience.

Posted by Adam

Monday, 12 January 2009

Disney World - Day 2 - Boma

Dining African Style

A later reservation to Boma meant that we had some time to relax in the hotel before heading out to eat. Despite the cooler temperature, Corbin went for a swim in the outdoor pool that also has a water slide. He grabbed some pool noodles and spent close to 45 minutes in the pool. The cooler weather didn't seem to slow him down.

Luna Park at the Boardwalk VillasAfter drying off and relaxing some more, we walked to the car and drove over to Animal Kingdom Lodge. Took less then 10 minutes to get there.

It was busy at Boma, but it didn't take to long for our buzzer to buzz. We were shown to a booth close to the buffet. Our server was top notch and knew how to handle the boys. He was very friendly, adding to the excellent atmosphere. We lined up and piled on the food.

The feature was prime rib (medium or well done). There was a great range of African-themed food to choose from. I went up three times before hitting the desert buffet. The boys finished early and laid down on both sides of Tina - I knew that the booth would come in handy.

Waiting for our table at BomaThe desert selection was excellent. It was difficult to choose a few items. Everyone was full. We recommend Boma as a place to eat.

On the way back stopped at the gas station near our hotel to see if I can pick up some milk, OJ and baked goods. Was able to score the milk and OJ (from concentrate - this stuff should be banned in Florida) and some junk food. Then we had to deal with Jeremy needing to go pee right away - of course.

Posted by Adam

Disney World - Day 2 - Hollywood Studios

Disney's Hollywood Studios aka Crazyville

Our first full day at Disney. After a quick breakfast, we walked down to the Boardwalk and grabbed a boat to Hollywood Studios.
The weather was overcast but warm enough to wear shorts with sweaters.

Family Portrait - Waiting for the Boat to Hollywood Studios
The place was buzzing as we walked up to the front gate. Jeremy and Corbin were excited.
Tina and I noticed a lot of groups of Brazil. Like everywhere. We walked over to the Tower of Terror ride. Corbin didn't want to go on it, but I did manage to talk Tina into going.

Like all Disney rides, the waiting line is broken up into section. First, you get herded into a room where Rod Sterling appears on TV, telling you what happened at the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Then you end up in the basement.
Next, you are guided to a number on the floor in front of the elevator doors. The doors open and you take your seat, buckle in and wait in anticipation. The ride moves up and you are treated to some more Disney theatre.

All of a sudden the 'car' moves forward and then into a completely dark room. Oh oh.
Then the car drops. And I mean it drops. Then it goes back up. It drops. Up. Drops. I swear that on one drop the hang time was at least 5 or so seconds. Tina was screaming. That was a great ride. Exiting the ride, there was a boutique that had your picture. And there was Tina and I in our glory - me with my eyes closed (or looking away from the camera) and Tina with one of the best terrified looks ever. So we had to get the picture.

Corbin and I walked over to the Rock and Roll Roller Coaster and got a FastPass despite the tour groups were taking all the FastPasses. We wandered around some more, and ended up in the Pixar area. The wait for Toy Story Mania was at least 50 minutes. FastPass was available for 4:00 PM - I kid you not. So we waited in line to take pictures with Buzz Lightyear and Woody.

Posing with a Toy Soldier from the movie Toy Story
I noticed that the line to Toy Story Mania was much shorter and the wait was only 30 minutes. Part way through the line is a talking Potato Head that has a conversation with you. So Corbin had an excellent chat. Toy Story Mania is a ride - two people per car - where you wear 3D glasses and shot a gun at different scenes. It's a blast. Even my mom loved the ride.

Headed back to the Rock And Roll Roller Coaster. Didn't have to wait too long with our FastPass. Had an issue after boarding the ride in that Corbin put his arms inside the restraint. A castmember came over and politely told Corbin to put his arms outside. Then it was launch time. That was an amazing launch. Then loops and rolls and all sorts of crazy things. Stopped in at the photo booth and purchased the photo of Corbin and I for delivery to our hotel.


Grabbed our first Disney Dining Plan counter-service during lunch time. An ample individual pizza, salad, pop and a desert. Corbin gobbled up the pizza. Jeremy did too. The desert was good. We were all full.


Is that a real street or the backlot?
Tina had had enough of Corbin's anxiety of waiting in line and walked over with Corbin to Customer Services to obtain a Guest Assistance Card. The rest of us shopped in the stores. My mom bought a beautiful jacket to keep her warm. The great thing about staying in the park is the ability to charge purchases to your room. No need to keep a lot of cash or credit cards on you.

The Guest Assistance Card made a difference. We were able to utilize the FastPass line when available. It also enabled us to wait in a more quiet area for any shows. It came in handy for the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. One of the Castmembers even gave us a tip about how to beat the crowd out (wait for Indy to shoot the gun and the explosion and then leave - where you can head over the Star Tours or Jedi Training Academy and beat the crowd). The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular was a hit. We all loved it. Jeremy and Corbin were speechless.

Next we took a ride on Star Tours and then walked around some more going to a few more rides and attractions before calling it quits due to the high crowd levels. Those tour groups really messed up the day.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Disney World - Day 1 - Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

As I drove pretending to know where everything is, I could not believe the amount of traffic. Buses. Cars. Monorails. Taxis. Busy.

I showed my parking pass at the booth and asked where the Diamond Parking (a CAA/AAA Vacation perk) area is - "follow the blue line" said the man. So I followed it. And I went too far. So I went around and followed it again. Was able to park not to far from the parking tram stop and from the sidewalk to the Ticket and Transportation Center.

We walked up to the monorail and one pulled in not too shortly. We boarded the iconic vehicles. The excitement was thick. Despite being awake for 10 or so hours, we still had some energy left. As the monorail got closer to Magic Kingdom, the boys got more vocal.

Finally, we pulled into the station. It was hot and there were people everywhere. Went through "security" then put out cards into the readers and were asked to record our finger print. The purpose of the fingerprint is to prevent someone from using your card. More on that in a later post.

We walked under the railroad and, finally, we were in Magic Kingdom. People here. People there. People everywhere. Walking up main street we stopped at Casey's Corner for a quick bite to eat. We did not use our Dining Plan (a five night stay means only five days of food). It was good to eat and drink.

People were lining up for the afternoon parade - Disney Dreams Come True Parade - so we decided to hang around and watch it. It had tons of characters in it. Both Corbin and Jeremy were glued to the parade. Check one thing off the list.

We managed to squeeze in a ride on the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. Tina got squirted by a camel when Corbin moved the carpet up. Fun times.

It was close to 4:00 PM, so we headed back to the hotel to unwind, relax, recover and get ready for supper.

Posted by Adam

Disney World - Day 1 - Disney Magical Express

Orlando International Airport to Boardwalk Villas

The trip from the airport to the hotel took about 30 or so minutes. The Boardwalk Inn & Villas was the first stop, which was fine by us. Did I mention that it was sunny and hot?

I checked us in. Our room was not yet ready, but we did get our passes (which are also our room keys) and a whole bunch of information. While the rest of the gang waited in the hotel lobby, I booked it over to the Dolphin Hotel to pick up the car rental. It was a Toyota Rav 4. Nice. Drove back to the hotel and parked the car. Tina checked our carry on bags with Bell Services.

Since the room wasn't ready and we were hungry, we decided to drive up to Magic Kingdom to get into the Disney spirit.

Posted by Adam

Disney World - Day 1 - Detroit Metro Airport

Windsor, ON to Orlando, FL

4:00 AM

Time to wake up, have a quick shower and breakfast and load up the van for the drive to Detroit Metro Airport. Thankfully is stopped snowing. Everyone eventually woke up, had some food and got dressed.

5:15 AM

Left the house and headed toward the Ambassador Bridge. Two customs booths open. No waiting and only a few questions. I-94 was limited to one or two lanes but was drivable. The North Terminal was a bustling place at 6:00 AM. Unloaded the van and had a porter take the bags and do curbside check in while I parked the van.

6:30 AM

Made it through security with no problem - talk about organized mayhem. A few more benches to put on shoes and coats would be useful. Walked over to the gate for Spirit Airlines and waited. Tina grabbed some hot food from McDonalds. More waiting. Corbin, Jeremy and myself played games on our Nintendo, Tina read a book and Babcia watched the action on the tarmac.

8:35 AM

Boarded the plane and had to wait while a replacement crew member arrived. First time on an airplane for Corbin and Jeremy. Both were a little anxious. Jeremy just wanted to play with his Nintendo DS and Corbin just wanted to get to Disney. Jeremy has numerous washroom visits.

It was cloudy most of the way, so there wasn't much for the boys to see. Over Florida, the clouds began to break and the boys got excited. I got excited because there was no snow on the ground.

11:50 AM

We made it to Orlando. Sun. Warmth. Palm trees. Tina simply loved it.

We checked in at the Disney Magical Express line. It was long but moving at a good pace. About 15 minutes or so later we were on the bus to Disney.

Posted by Adam

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

A Happy New Year to all.

Posted by Adam