So we got out and checked out the area a bit this week. We've hit up our local Target, one of the Publix stores, and Petco. Next up on our list is the other Publix and the Walmart. We're on the search for seltzer, which nobody seems to carry around here.
On the fun side of things, I asked on one of the homeschool group lists which parks are close by and good, and it turns out the best one in the area is about two minutes away from us! We headed over there on Wednesday and it was indeed pretty cool. And cool, as you can see by the pictures - we all have our hoodies on.
All the play structures here are 'natural' themed - the big structure looks like it's made out of trees and rocks, and the jungle gyms look like various creatures. Lachlann here is on top of a giant spider.
Colwyn and Lachlann pretending to be some 'too-cool' bees in some honeycomb.
I'm not sure if Fiona was trying to scare me, or if she was pretending to be scared. She and Niall like these fake hollowed out logs, though.
Of course Lachlann (and Colwyn) need to use the playground in unorthodox ways. Yes, my children have become the kids I hated when I only had toddlers. Well, sort of - the difference is that my kids are very aware of little kids and are careful around them - I don't think they've ever knocked down a little kid. They're just bad influences.
The one kind of bug Fiona isn't scared of! This is a giant dragonfly, if you can't tell from the picture. You can ride on it like Fiona is or you can use the wings like a see-saw.
I had to laugh a bit at this playground, though. There was big sign prominently displayed at the entrance, bragging about this being the only 'natural' playground in the area, and how this playground allows children to reconnect to nature and experienced more unstructured, creative play. Um.. yeah. The jungle gyms are shaped like interesting things, sure, and the siding of the big play structure looks like bark, but that doesn't make it a natural playground. When I think of natural playgrounds I think of big boulders to climb on or slide down, trees to climb, etc. Oh well.. it was still fun, well kept, and close by. Win!
On Thursday, we went to a homeschool group meeting at an indoor trampoline arena. I couldn't get any good pictures except the one above of Fiona resting because the kids were just blurs as they bounced about. It was super fun, though, and there were a TON of homeschoolers. We definitely have to get the kids to build up their stamina, though, because they tired out real quick!
The best part of the week was last night, though. I wanted to wait until Doug could come with us before heading into Disney. We didn't even make it a whole week in Orlando before heading on property! We obviously don't have our annual passes yet because you need to have a Florida license to get the resident prices, but we couldn't wait any longer. Niall was very cute as we were getting ready - I asked Doug to grab him a Disney t-shirt, and Niall impressed me by asking for his "Toad's Ride" shirt. I didn't think he'd remember it, but while we were waiting for Doug to get it he told me all about how funny it is that there's a car on the train tracks about to crash into a train! So cute.
We went to our favorite resort, Port Orleans Riverside, to get magic cookie bars (and chocolate cake for the littles). I thought the food would be the highlight, but I was surprised by the emotional aspect of just walking into the lobby. I couldn't tell whether I felt sad or happy to see the places where some of our fondest memories happened. Even the small things like the bench where I would wait with Fiona and Niall in the stroller while Doug and the bigs filled up our mugs in the morning got me all choked up.
After we ate, we decided to take the bus over to Magic Kingdom and ride the resort monorail. I was kind of expecting to feel disappointed that we couldn't go into the park, or to be bored with just riding the transportation, but I think we really just felt a sense of well-being. It was cool and breezy, and just being near the MK was so pleasant. We ended up getting off at the Grand Floridian to check out the gingerbread house, which we'd never seen before. Wow! Not only did the house really impress, but the smell inside the whole main building was just incredible. It was an amazing balance between ever-present, sweet and Christmas-y, but not sickly or overbearing.
Of course, we're looking forward to getting our passes so we can go into the parks, but in the meantime, there are tons of free, fun things to do that we never bothered with on our vacations because we were so obsessed with getting in as many rides as we could!