We added a new family member recently, meet Oakley!
Oakley is 9 weeks old and is a Golden Retriever / Yellow Lab mix. He is a very good boy.
I’ve been hesitant on getting a dog for many years. Caile has been steadfast for all these years wanting one. She never asks for anything but has been just this one thing.
The pandemic seemed like a logical time for us to finally get one. Caile sealed the deal though because of how she stepped up when the pandemic first happened. She was a huge help keeping our home and family running smooth. It proved to me that she could handle and help with a dog.
We set out to find a puppy to bring home but it seemed a lot of other people had the same idea we did during the pandemic. Caile really wants a chocolate lab, but all the breeders we could find didn’t have any litters coming available, and if they did there was a waiting list. We expanded to any Lab or Golden Retriever and that helped. Jen, through a friend, found a kennel who had just had a litter and we were able to get Oakley.
He’s been home for a week with us now and is fitting in well. He’s been coming with us in lots of adventures. We have a pretty good system with lots of taking turns to take him out at night. There have been a few accidents during the day but nothing at night.
As the main hold out from us getting a dog I started getting really excited about the idea. Oakley and I have become good buddies already now. We have a good routine going in the mornings. We’ve been going for pre sunrise walks then coming home and playing / snuggling on the floor.
Things are going really well, but having a puppy is still exhausting. It feels like you have to be constantly on. What’s he chewing on? Does that mean he needs to pee? Is he eating enough food? Ouch, those teeth are sharp! I think we’re all a little tired but I know things will keep getting better as he learns and settles in.
Now what you really want, lots of cute puppy pictures.
Like many people our original plans for this summer have drastically changed. We were going to use my Sabbatical from work to spend time in Alberta visiting family. As that couldn’t happen we decided we would see some of our local area that we don’t spend enough time in.
We had started going to places early on and exploring new spots, but recently a great initiative was started called the Nova Scotia Staycation Scavenger Crawl. It is a contest where teams can enter supporting the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, and then possibly win prizes by visiting a list of places across our beautiful province.
There are 20 places on the list, some close and that we’ve visited before, but others quite far that we’ve never been to. This was a good list and excuse to explore so we signed up and are off to a good start. We have 13 our of 20 and plans to get the rest.
There were a few items on Cape Breton Island which is about the furthest a way from us as you can get, so we planned a few day trip to visit. The kids have never been there, and I haven’t been since I was a kid. It is beautiful and we’re already planning our next visit.
The Skyline Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands was about my favourite place we’ve been yet. I could have sat at a point in the trail looking out over the water from the edge for hours admiring the beauty.
We also visited Fortress Louisbourg which is a National Historic site that takes you back in time and explore what life may have been like in the 1700s.
One of the other items on the list is the Big Fiddle.
We had family and friends with us for the trip which made it even more enjoyable. This was also our first time staying in a hotel for a long time. Things were different but seemed good. Things weren’t super busy, everything seemed cleaner than normal, and we could even book time at the pool where our group had it to ourselves.
Looking forward to visiting the rest of the spots on the crawl and visiting Cape Breton again.
Today was the first day of my Sabbatical from work. Three months were a all my typical excuses are no longer valid. I have the time and ability to do a bunch of things I’ve been putting off.
I started today with one thing I’ve been putting off for a long time. Not really intentionally, just never prioritized it and fit it in. We live near Cape Split which is a great Provincial Park on the Bay of Fundy. When I was about 12, long before I moved to the Annapolis Valley I went on a hike there. It was a cold rainy day and I didn’t have fun at all. We never made it to the top either. Even though I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and we’ve gone on lots of hikes and trails, I’ve never been back to do Cape Split. This morning I biked to the top.
It is a little more than 6km each way and meant more for hiking then biking, but most of the trail is pretty good. There are a number of spots I needed to walk over some big roots that I didn’t think I’d make it over though. It was worth the trip and I’ll be going back and hiking it for sure.
This is just the start. I have a list of things around the house I’ve been putting off, but will now get done, and I’m going to continue building the good habits to get myself into shape. I’ve been doing well for a few months now in the last 80 days I’ve had 56 I’ve considered a success by getting enough exercise and eating healthy. There have only been 6 days that I consider a failure in that time. I still have work to do though and and will be putting in the effort.
For a while we’ve known it was getting close to time to pick up a new second vehicle. We have a large SUV, Chevrolet Traverse, which is an eight seater and our main family vehicle when we go anywhere all together. It is an all wheel drive and we use it most of the winter because of that.
We’ve been driving a Hyundai Elantra as our second vehicle for when there is just some of going. It isn’t the best in the winter though so if the roads are bad we generally don’t take it anywhere.
With Alex moving out we’ve been driving her and Ezra where ever they need to go so we thought it made sense to get something new that is smaller and easier on gas, but also all wheel drive and will do well in winter. We can then pass on the Elantra to Alex so we can be less of a taxi service 🙂
We did a lot of research and test drove a number of things. We were looking in the sub compact SUV kind class. At first I wanted to stay away from Hyundai but when I got thinking about it I’ve owned a number of them over the years and they’ve all treated us pretty well. Combine that with the deals they had on at the time, the good reviews of the Kona, the warranty, and how well it handled when we were out on the test drive, it won out.
It got me looking back a bit at the other Hyundais we’ve had. It started out way back with a 1987 Hyundai Excel. This was the family car I learned to drive on. We drove that thing so that they odometer read about 300,000 KM. It stopped working at some point though so we don’t really know how much was on it.
Next the first brand new car I ever bought myself was a Hyundai Accent in 2002. I’m really hoping that this new one doesn’t meet the same fate that one though. About three months after buying it found its final resting spot.
When Alex was getting her license and learning to drive our second vehicle was a Honda Civic which was a manual and getting pretty old. We figured an automatic was the best thing for her. We took over the 2008 Hyundai Elantra from my Parents-in-law as they were downgrading to one vehicle only, which happens to be a newer Elantra. We’ve been driving it ever since and treating us really well. Though it had its share of trouble in the past
It was all fixed up though and Noah recently learned how to change a tire on it.
We’ve already given the new Kona a pretty good workout. Had it out in some pretty messy weather, and found out it can hold easily hold twelve large pizzas in the trunk.
We opted for the Trend trim package because it came in this blue that Jen really wanted. It has lots of good features, and the 1.6L Turbo engine which makes it really fun to drive. Things like the heated seats, and steering wheel are both things I never thought I’d need, but going on in this cold weather, I really enjoy them. My favourite thing is when needing to pass someone on the highway, the turbo makes it pretty easy and fun.
Our town has a fun tradition for the month of October. We have the Pumpkin People pop up all over. Each year is a different theme, but I really like this years especially. It is Toon Town, showcasing a bunch of classic cartoons.
This morning we got up and went apple picking again with family and friends and then everyone came back to our place to test out the BBQ on our new deck. Then we went out around town to check out the different displays.
If you’ve been following along at all you’ll know that basketball has been the main sport for Noah. He loves it and constantly wants to be playing or watching it. He’s tried other sports before when he was younger but none that stuck.
For a while I’ve been wanting him to try something else again if for no other reason that maybe it will make him not burn out or get tired of basketball. He had a few friends from school and basketball starting out with baseball this year so he agreed to give it a try.
We’ve been practicing for about a month now and it’s been up and down. Some nights he seems to enjoy it, others he is finding it slow and a little boring.
His team had their first game tonight, and while I think basketball will always win out in his mind, he had a good time and seemed to enjoy it. They won the game and he was up to bat twice and was walked both times. He was really excited about stealing bases and using his speed and he managed to steal second then third.
So far throwing and catching seems to be coming along pretty well but hitting needs some work. We don’t have a tee, and we have not a lot of backyard to hit in so I put together a ball on a rope for him to practise hitting. It seemed to work pretty well. You can hit it standing still so it is sort of like a tee, or you can toss it out and let it come back to you to hit a ball moving towards you.
He seems happy to keep working on it which is great. Gives us something fun to do while basketball season is out. Though there are still some basketball camps that he’ll be attending over the summer too.
I’m glad that he’s trying other sports, but also glad that basketball is still his number one.
Seems like a lot of the posts I end up writing these days are either about work, family, or basketball. That makes a lot of sense because that is basically my life and I’m happy with all of it.
There is a really nice balance with everything right now that hasn’t always been present. I’ve written about this elusive balance a few times over the years and I believe it’s helped me get to this point. Starting back in the summer of 2014 when I really started looking for and going after what I wanted. Then in the fall of that year when I was in the heat of it, essentially working two jobs in an attempt to get there. Then the summer after I started my new job, life and work seemed to occupy the most time still.
For a while I had running. That was my dedicated time for myself where I was spending hours every week with just my thoughts and the trails, but as I fell out of that habit any free time I had, I filled up with less productive things. I still need to make time for my health and make that a habit again, but I’m so happy with the overall aspects of life right now.
My job is fantastic, family life is busy but full of love and happiness, and I have found a hobby that I enjoy, is fulfilling, and I can share with my family, basketball. It’s funny Jen wrote a bit about it this morning as I was thinking over the ideas for this post. Noah’s love for playing basketball has really gotten us all into it. For me it is back into it, but everyone else truly enjoys it now as well.
For many years I stopped following basketball but as Noah got more and more into it, and I started helping coach the two teams he plays for, we started watching more. We go to live games at the local University watching the Axemen and Axewomen play. We follow the Raptors pretty closely, but even if they aren’t playing most nights I find some game to watch.
It’s entertainment yes, but working with Noah and his team and helping them develop it is also very fulfilling. I played a lot of basketball when I was growing up, but never in a real team environment. So being involved in a team sport and seeing the importance of everyone working together, even at their young age, really helps me see connections to this and work.
Having a strong team means helping everyone develop their individual skills, but also having them work together as a team to make each other stronger. Each team member has a role to play and it will likely change over time and situations. As a coach or team lead you help the members develop their skills and to find their role in the team.
Noah plays on two teams and his role is different on each team right now. On our club team, seeing this is his second year at the U10 level, he has more experience than others, a strong drive, and can score. In yesterdays game we were a couple people short and needed someone to score. Noah ended up scoring 27 points out of teams 48 for the game to help the win. On his other team, everyone is pretty much at the same level. Lots of people can score and others have more advanced ball handling skills, but Noah with his speed and determination can play darn good man to man defence. So in those games he may not always score as many points but instead prevent the other team from scoring while his teammates get the baskets.
With my recent role change at work, and the team changes that happened in conjunction with it, I’m still trying to see where my role is with my team. We have a solid group where everyone has areas they are really strong in. We work together and help each other with problems which helps everyone learn and get stronger. Some people are really great with domain names, some with CSS, and some do a great job at staying up to date with new products or changes and help everyone else learn about them. I’m one of the more experienced on the team because I’ve been with the company longer than most. My recent experience leading a team and the skills and knowledge I learned there can be a strength. Maybe my role is that of a player coach, where I’m doing the same work as everyone else and using my experience to help others on the team continue to grow and develop.
For now, I’m really happy with all aspects of my life and seem to have found the balance I was chasing after for a long time. Life has a way of changing things up and causing things to rearrange but like always we’ll roll with those changes keep making things better.
Driving this way it allowed us to accomplish two things we had been wanting to do for a long time. For years we have said that once all the kids were old enough we would take them to Disney. Also for years we’ve wanted to take the kids to New Orleans to show them the city Jen and I were married and spent some of our honeymoon in. So we tied the two together into one long trip. Of course it has the added bonus of being along the coast for a lot of our path where there are amazing beaches which is a highlight for our family.
This post is as much for me as it is for anyone else to help ensure I remember all the highlights and use as a resource later on when I say to myself, what year did we do that?
It still amazes me at how well the whole family travels when we drive as much as we do, or are staying with everyone in a single hotel room. There were of course some moments where people were getting on each others nerves, or someone just needed a little space to themselves, but overall everyone gets along well and it helps make the trip that much more enjoyable.
Similar to last year again we spent some of our vacation just our family and some of it with close friends and family. This year the Fisher family met us for the Florida / Disney part of the trip. We shared a place to stay for the week and did just about everything together. It’s awesome to get to share these experiences and memories with them.
Hampton Beach, NH
Same as last year one of the first stops we made was at Hampton Beach. It’s become a bit of a tradition for us to stop there just about every time we pass through. It’s a great beach and everyone loves it.
Madame Tussauds – Washington DC
We stayed for a couple nights at the same AirBnB we’ve stayed at a few times now. Donna is a great host and has a comfortable place that the kids even get excited about when ever we go to stay there. Taught the kids a bit about playing pool even while we were there. As we’ve been to Washington a few times now we wanted to try something different. We’ve never been to a wax museum so went and tried Madame Tussauds. The characters were pretty impressive.
When we were done we still had lots of time so we walked around a bit and found a Rita’s Italian Ice shop which is Caile’s favourite. It was really hot so it was a nice cool treat. We stopped on the steps of the Smithsonian American Art Museum to eat and then went in and checked out the art for a while as well. We’ve been to a number of the Smithsonian museums but this one was a first for us as well.
For July 4th we were able to get together with a friend and former co-worker Andrea Badgley. It was great to catch up and get to meet her husband and for her to meet the rest of our family. We had an awesome meal and enjoying our time together so much we decided not to go see fireworks and just stayed in and talked more. We did manage to catch a few on the car ride home though.
Discovery Place Science Center – Charlotte, NC
Jen has always wanted to visit Charlotte. I’d been once for a work trip but it was pretty packed so I didn’t get to see much of the city. What I did see was nice though. We took the kids to the Discovery Space Science Center. It’s included as part of our local Discovery Center pass but was a lot of fun.
Georgia Aquarium – Atlanta GA
Years ago when researching a different vacation Alex found the Georgia Aquarium. It has one of the biggest tanks around and they have whale sharks. It was one of the must see things on this trip.
On our way to the aquarium we were caught in a crazy rain, thunder and lightning storm. There was no way to get into the aquarium from the car without getting soaked. We had already bought the tickets and there were for that day, there was no way to change the date so we sat in the car and luckily it wasn’t too long before the rain passed and we were able to get in. We’ve been to a fair number of aquariums now but this one was really nice. It was cool seeing the whale sharks especially.
New Orleans, LA
Up until this point we were only staying one or two nights in an area on our way to New Orleans where we would stay for a week. This was one of the highlight weeks for me that I’ve been looking forward to for almost 15 years to come back to this city. We had a nice little AirBnB type place to ourselves for the week and just a short drive into the city.
We spent time exploring the French Quarter, eating beignets, visited the Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, ate beignets, went through the aquarium, took the same paddle wheel river boat tour where Jen and I were married, took a swamp tour, visited city park, and ate beignets 🙂
It was cool to meet up with two co-workers while we were there as well. One day we went out to eat Po’boys with Charlie who used to be on my team and is now on Jen’s team. Then we met up with Pam and her boys. Another perk of working for a distributed company is you get to know people all over the world.
The time we spent there was great but just makes me want to go back again, and not just for the beignets. So much more food to try, we didn’t get to take in any music like I would have liked, and going on the swamp tour again in a different time of year would be on my list as well.
Pensacola Beach, FL
We love beaches, so of course we would have to stop at a Gulf Coast beach on our way. The beach was pretty crowded but we were able to find free parking right beside one of the walk ways to the beach. There was also an air show happening that same day so we were treated to a show. The Blue Angels US flight demonstration team practices there, but this was a full on show. The beach was beautiful and didn’t disappoint.
Florida Natural History Museum – Gainesville, FL
When we left Pensacola we headed towards Orlando and stopped the Florida Natural History Museum in Gainesville, FL to break up the trip. It certainly made a good stop and was also included in our local Discovery Center pass.
Universal Studios – Orlando, FL
This begins our week of theme parks. One of the main reasons we wanted to come here was Harry Potter. The Fisher family are all big Potter fans and Ella is too. It was a jam packed day as the Harry Potter portion spans across two parks and we tried to do them both in one day. It ended up being really busy and hot. There were some issues with power and so some rides weren’t working which caused us to move away from Harry Potter to other areas of the parks.
The Dr. Seuss area was pretty fun. Bright and it turned Noah’s mood around with rides he enjoyed. Earlier we were going to do Escape from Gringotts and went through the whole lineup right until we were to start the ride and it was a bit much for him so we bailed and left. He did throughly enjoy playing with the wand we bought and casting spells to have things happen.
There were a few people who really wanted to ride the Hulk roller coaster so while they waited in line there we played in an arcade for a bit. They ended up waiting 2 hours in line due to long waits and having to close for a while because of weather. It was thunder and lightening off and on throughout the day.
All said Harry Potter was really neat, and the Forbidden Journey Ride was one of the best ones I was on all week, but we didn’t do much else there. There didn’t seem to be any good places to get out of the heat for a bit or any areas where you could just sit and rest. There are likely places where we could have done that, but we didn’t find any. Out of all the parks this was everyone’s least favourite.
SeaWorld – Orlando, FL
After the day at Universal I wasn’t sure I was much of a theme park fan. Luckily SeaWorld helped change my mind. The lineups were much more reasonable which was a huge plus. This allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and try some roller coasters. Thankfully I did because I ended up enjoying them a lot.
We started with the Manta which has you essentially laying on your stomach facing straight down like a Manta Ray would and then sore around. You start out sitting in the seat as normal and get fastened in and then the seat tilts back so your in that position. This was some of the most freakiest parts. Once we started going it was really fun.
We went on the Mako which is advertised as Orlando’s tallest and fastest roller coaster and it was a wild ride. There were so many times where I was coming up right out of my seat as we made like a Mako shark chasing food.
The Kraken was another fun ride. There is a virtual reality option that you can go through the ride while wearing the headset, we didn’t realize you had to book that in advance, but the ride was very fun even without it. If we go back I’d definitely try with the VR though.
We also went on the Antartica Penguin ride which seemed was the first time in weeks that I felt relief from the heat. The employees inside all had winter coats and hats on, all bundled up. I was very comfortable in shorts for our short time in there.
The other great part out SeaWorld were the shows and other sights you could take in if you didn’t want to go on rides. The One Ocean killer whale show was really fun, and the sea lion high school show was funny and entertaining.
We came back that night and took in night show Electric Ocean with the killer whales again, and Ignite a fireworks and light show out on the water which was very well put together.
SeaWorld ended up being a lot of ours favourite park of the week and somethings we’ll do again if we are ever back there as a family.
Cocoa Beach, FL
We broke up our week of theme parks with a trip over to the coast to visit Cocoa Beach. We’ve struggled in the past with finding parking at popular beaches like this, but we must have arrived at a good time and found parking no problem. It was a really nice beach and nice to relax.
We prepared a bit ahead of time and picked up a beach umbrella, at one point I must not have it in the sand well enough as it started to blow away. Caile chased it down though and we managed to get it secure. Alex was able to use her new mermaid tail she bought at SeaWorld at a beach.
Near the end of the day we saw dolphins swim past us which was really cool to see them just swim by like it was totally normal. One of Jen’s highlights was the man walking down the beach with a bird perched on his shoulder. You know, just taking my bird for a walk.
Magic Kingdom – Orlando, FL
This was the day we were all waiting for, Disney! We arrived before the park opened, and we ended up staying all day until after the fireworks and light show on the castle.
Walking into Main Street USA with the iconic castle as a backdrop was a bit surreal. I’m not a die hard Disney fan, but there was something about seeing that castle that I used to see only on TV or in the intro to the Sunday Night Disney Movie was something else.
We were most prepared for this park which I think made it so much nicer. The FastPass system they offer paired with the MagicBands that the Fishers got for us all made so much of the day smooth. We couldn’t book fast passes for the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs mine ride but we rushed right there as soon as the park opened and didn’t have to wait a crazy long time to get on. After that we pretty much cycled through planned fast pass rides and then booked new ones as we went. This meant we never had to wait a real long time for a ride. The Fishers also bought the PhotoPass which meant we were able to all get really cool photos with the photographers at the Disney parks.
Besides the rides we took in some shows which were also really cool. The Monster’s Inc Comedy show was really funny. It was animated but they had live comedians doing the voice and involved the audience as well, really well done. The Main Street Parade was also very cool to see, all the characters going by and amazing floats.
By the time we made it to the end of the day we were all pretty tired, but the fireworks and light show at the castle was well worth the wait, pictures didn’t do it justice.
Animal Kingdom – Orlando, FL
Animal Kingdom was another fun park and as it was Disney the FastPasses helped so much. We did similar to Magic Kingdom where we arrived for opening and rushed to one of the popular rides that we couldn’t fast pass, the Avatar Flight of Passage. This was very cool and probably my top ride of the week. It was a simulation where you ride on the back of a banshee. It felt so real.
The shows we took in at Animal Kingdom were about my favourite thing though. We saw the Lion King show which was a live production as well as a live musical Nemo production. Both so well done. The fact that they were inside where we could sit didn’t hurt matters either 🙂
We tried a few times to get on the Kali River Rapids ride but struggled as it closed due to weather for a bit. Luckily when it opened we could still use our Fast Pass and made it on. The ride description was that you’d get wet, and maybe soaked. For us that was so true. Just as the ride started the rain started pouring on us like from buckets. I tried to dig out ponchos for people to put on but was only able to get one out before it was too late. I couldn’t even open it fully, Noah just held it over his head. We were so wet and it rained so hard we could barely see at points on the ride. It was a lot of fun, though I wasn’t overly sad when I could change out of my wet clothes at the end of the day. For the rest of the day every time I took a step it felt like I was stepping into a puddle my shoes were so soaked.
Disney Springs – Orlando, FL
Our last real day at Disney we went to hangout in Disney Springs. We did some shopping or at least exploring the shops. The Lego store there was a big hit as well as the World of Disney.
They had a little photo studio there as well which we used to take advantage of the Photo Pass and got some nice photos as a result.
From Disney Springs we hopped on one of the boats over to one of the Disney Resorts, Port Orleans. We thought we’d see what the resorts were like. The pool area looked amazing and it really did look like New Orleans with the way the buildings were setup. There was an arcade which really interested Noah so we stopped there and played for a while.
The taste of beignets were still fresh in my mind from New Orleans, and lucky for me they serve them at this resort so we treated the Fishers to my new favourite treat. I was able to watch them being made and they of course were in the shape of Mickey.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not – Ocean City, MD
After saying our good byes to the Fishers in Florida we started our drive home. Stayed the night in Charleston SC the first night where I had a bit of BBQ for dinner and then was woken up good and early in the morning by a rooster who apparently lives behind the hotel.
On our way over to Ocean City we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel which is pretty amazing. Its a long bridge across the bay which also has two areas which takes you down into tunnels below the Bay so that boats can cross over top.
Once we made it to Ocean City we did walk the boardwalk a bit and stepped barely onto the beach but we were racing the rain which had stayed with us most of the drive that day but had stopped at that point. We knew it called for rain so we planned to be inside and visited the Ripley’s Believe it or Not. We had never been to one before and it’s worth a visit. Lots of interesting and very weird things. Even things that seemed a bit gross.
Beardsley Zoo – Bridgeport, CT
We stayed a couple nights in Connecticut before we finished our trip and decided to visit the Beardsley Zoo on our last day. It was not very busy but was a nice little zoo with a number of endangered animals they keep to try and help preserve.
We ended up buying an annual membership for the zoo. Not so much because we might be back but it also offers big discounts at a number of other Zoo’s across Canada and the US. It didn’t cost much more than our one day admission and we’ll likely take advantage of the discount at at least one of the zoo’s on the list which will make it worth the price.
The Cat Ferry – Portland, ME to Yarmouth, NS
We hadn’t booked our last nights hotel right up until the very end. The plan was to drive somewhere into Maine book a hotel, then drive the rest of the way home the next day. We were all tired of driving and so we looked into The Cat Ferry which saves a bunch of driving, would save us a night hotel, food associated with another day on the road.
Although we were all thankful for being home a night early, the day just didn’t go well. We ran into rough traffic on the way to the ferry so it took us much longer than it should have to get us there. The ferry was then late leaving and it was a terribly rough ride. No one felt good. There were passengers throwing up pretty regularly with some not even making it to a washroom.
After we first booked we talked about taking the ferry again for future trips, but after we arrived home so late, and no one feeling good, I don’t think we’ll ever take that ferry again.
We finally made it home really late, but at least we could sleep in our own bed and had an extra day at home before we had to dive back into reality. Though reality didn’t take long to catch up with us.
Here’s a map of the rough path we took for this trip.
When we were getting ready for this trip Noah badly wanted for us to pack a basketball so he could use it and at least dribble around at times. We were pretty tight for space and there wouldn’t really be any spot to use it while we were staying in hotels and other rentals so we left them home. Having a break would probably be good too right?
At least two of the hotels we stayed at ended up having little half courts setup and the rental we’ve been staying in this week has a net setup almost right outside our door. He used these as opportunities to break out the old “I told you so”, but really it was too hot to play anyway.
On a couple of occasions so far we’ve let the kids play at arcades and both times Noah ended up right at the basketball free throw games for a lot of the time. The first arcade was one where you could win tickets to trade in for cheap toys so he used them to pick up a tiny little net and ball he could play with in the house.
At SeaWorld there was one of the games you could pay to play for a chance to win prizes based on the number of shots you made. It wasn’t open which was the only reason he didn’t end up sinking a bunch of his own money into trying to win a Raptors flag there.
Tonight is our last night at the rental here in Florida so after we made it home we let the kids go for a swim. There were three teenage boys who had a mini basketball and were throwing it around the pool with each other. They could tell Noah wanted to play after a while and they let him join them just like he was a long friend. Except it was even better. They talked to him and asked him questions like his name, how old he is, if he played basketball normally, and built up his confidence by letting him know he had skills. Before long he was jumping off the side into the pool and throwing it while in the air, and they were throwing him passes he could catch mid air as well.
When it was time for us to leave they high five’d him and said good by. I thanked them for including Noah and told them he was missing basketball this trip. Right away one of the boys yelled to the other who had the ball telling them to give it to Noah so he could take it with him. We thanked them but declined so they could keep playing, and we have lots of basketballs at home.
There have been times on this trip already where I was frustrated with groups of teenagers who couldn’t seem to keep their language or volume at a PG level in public spaces with kids around, so it was extra nice to see these boys not only be respectful that way, but also be kind enough to include a much younger boy. I remember what it was like to have older kids include me in things when I was little, always made me feel good and a bit more grown up. Watching the smile on Noah’s face and the excitement when we got back and he told Jen the story was heart warming. Thank you boys!
At the beginning of this week I was contemplating about just how much I going to regret all the money we spent on this week of our trip. We had ambitious days planned to take in five Orlando Theme Parks in four days. The heat was already bothering me, and I’ve not typically been a huge ride person. Not enjoying heights makes thrill rides less appealing.
We started on Monday by hitting up Universal and trying to fit in two of their parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Universal is super cheeky and taking advantage of Harry Potter fans like Ella and the Fisher family who we were spending the week with. They split up Harry Potter across the two different parks so that in order to see it all you had to pay for both. The whole experience though is very impressive. Exploring Diagon Alley, picking out a wand and using it to cast spells around, then hopping the Hogwart Express to Hogsmeade. The line for the Escape from Gringotts was long but we waited to do it. By the time we made it to the ride Noah decided it was going to be too much so him and I opted out.
We ran into issues here as there was an issue with some electricity in Hogsmeade so rides shut down. We did use that time to go play in Seuss Landing which didn’t have long lines, but cute rides. It was wonderfully colourful and a fun setup. The Hulk roller coaster had a very long wait but some of our group really wanted to go so they waited. It had weather delays on top of the already long wait and there just didn’t seem like great places to wait for them and avoid the heat. We hung out in an arcade for a bit to kill some time and spend money 🙂 By this point I was really second guessing our decision for the week.
I'm not sure I'm a theme park person. The rides are pretty fun, the Harry Potter The Forbidden Ride was pretty amazing, but not sure the long wait in feels like 45C temps are worth it.
We finally did make it on The Forbidden Ride and it was a very cool experience, just not sure it was worth the wait.
Thankfully the next few days changed my mind and I’m a convert to these theme parks. we went to SeaWorld next and had a much different experience. We never waited really long for any rides and we were able to do the Manta, Kraken, and Mako, which were all fun roller coasters. The Antartica penguin ride was a great way to cool down, there were aquariums we could jump into between rides, and the shows were fantastic. We left for a bit to come back to the condo for something to eat, but then went back for a night Orca show, and laser and fireworks display. It ended the day perfectly.
We ended our parks with Disney. We visited both Magical Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. These were once again much better experiences than Universal, the FastPass option made things so much better. There was something just about seeing Cinderella’s castle that made things. It brought me back to our childhood and watching Sunday night Disney movie and seeing the castle in the theme with the fireworks and Tinker Bell. Back then I don’t even remember thinking that going to Disney and seeing it in person would ever be something I could really do. It just seemed so out of reach. Now here I am with my family and friends walking down Main Street USA towards the castle and staying all day until the end of the light and fireworks show.
It was a long day at Magical Kingdom but worth it. The rides were fun and enjoyed by everyone, the entertainment and shows were fun, and the parade down Main Street was very cool.
Today we went to Animal Kingdom and this was probably one of my favourites. There was so much to see even when not on rides. The Avatar ride was so well done. Soaring around Pandora on the back of a Banshee was a worth the bit of a wait we had. The shows we were able to see here were probably my favourite parts though. The Lion King and the Nemo Musical were high quality performances.
One of the fun memories that will stick with me longer than my toes were wrinkled was the Kali River Rapids ride. They say you’ll get wet or maybe soaked, we were certainly the later. Not from the ride, but because just after the ride started the sky opened up and dumped buckets of water on us. Very quickly I dove into the backpack to get ponchos by the time I had one out and opened it was already too late, we were dripping from the rain. Noah held the one I managed to get out of the package over his head, but the rest of us didn’t bother.
So despite the rocky start this has been such a fun week and I’m willing to come back again sometime in the future and maybe try out some of the other parks and revisit some of the favourites from this trip.