Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Best Thing About Florida..

The best thing so far about living in Florida doesn't have anything to do with the theme parks.  It's our lanai.  I'm proud to say that I knew in advance that would be one of the best things about living here, and made a large lanai and pool a 'must-have' when we were looking for a place to live.  We use it exactly the way I envisioned.

We've got the GeoTrax trains, the sandbox, the climber, the big Barbie house and lots of Barbie gear, our chairs and a fire pit, and the table and chairs that came with the house out there.  Oh, and the grill, and a lounge chair that serves as a Barbie drying rack.  The kids probably spend about half their time outside.  Obviously, that'll change a bit when it gets hot, but for now, it's absolutely amazing.

I can be in the kitchen cooking or on the couch watching TV (like that ever happens!) and have a full view of the lanai, and since the weather has been so nice, we just leave the door open so I can hear them.  When it gets hot, I'll probably keep closer to the door if I'm inside.  But for now, I can even be working at my desk in my bedroom while they're outside, since our bedroom has a door to the lanai (and oh, when it's pouring rain, it's amazing to just open the door and sit on our couch and read).

My absolute favorite part of the day is dinner time because we eat almost every dinner out on the lanai.  It's so relaxing, and we hear the crickets chirping, and the white Christmas lights we have strung up just look so pretty.  If we put on some music, it's just idyllic.

I've noticed over the last few years that winter has gotten to be more and more of a struggle for me, but I didn't realize how much so until we moved down here, and I haven't experienced it at all.  Not that everything's perfect - we still have stress and difficult days, but being able to get outside really helps me stay balanced.  I do miss Massachusetts, but Florida suits us so much better.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Job Interview!

I've been looking for a job since we moved to Florida.  I really need part-time work if we want to be able to do Disney stuff regularly.  Unfortunately, the job market down here sucks - lots and lots of competition, and since I haven't worked outside the home since before Fiona was born, I'm at a distinct disadvantage.  There's also the complication that I can only work a limited schedule, when Doug is home from work to watch the kids.

I managed to score a job interview for today.  It's for a marketing company that represents the Chase Disney Visa card, with booths at Downtown Disney and Magic Kingdom.  The interview was at Starbucks in Downtown Disney, and I have to say, it was really weird going to Downtown Disney for an interview.  But it went really well, and I think the manager liked me.  I know she has other applicants, and since my schedule isn't that flexible, I don't want to get my hopes up.  But it would be a pretty cool job - I wouldn't be a Cast Member specifically, but I'd get to do Traditions, and I'd get four comp tickets a year.  And, you know.. working at Disney!

Plus, I'd be really relieved not to have to take a night job.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'd rather not.  I've really been dreading having to work nights and then be 'on' with the kids all day.  Cross your fingers for me!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Trampoline Arenas Galore

In other efforts to ease their homesickness, I've upped our friend-making efforts.  Today we went to a homeschool session at a trampoline arena.  We've also got social plans tomorrow, Friday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

These trampoline arenas are all over the place down here.  I know of at least three, and I'm sure there are more.  We've been to one on the east side of Orlando (Airheads) a couple times, and I think I prefer that one to the one we went to today (SkyZone), even though it's 20 minutes further away.  There's an arcade (which we don't use) and they usually provide pitchers of water and cups.  It's also more open and spacious than the one we went today.

SkyZone is closer, but a little more expensive.  It's also a little smaller, and it was completely packed.  The kids were a bit overwhelmed with the crowd.  I liked seeing so many normal homeschool kids, and there were lots of older teens, too (it's nice to see homeschooled kids turning out okay).  But I was really disappointed that my kids were too intimidated to strike up conversations.

It's virtually impossible to get good pictures of the kids here.  None of my cameras are fast enough.  And yes, I realize that I just described it as being packed, and here are Colwyn and Lachlann in a wide expanse of trampolines, all alone - but that's because about 50 kids were crammed into a small Dodgeball area at this point.

I know it takes time to make friends, and I shouldn't get discouraged so easily, but I was really feeling down when we left SkyZone today.  There are just SO many homeschoolers here, that even though we try to get to a lot of different homeschool activities, we never seem to run into the same people - so it's hard for my kids to get acclimated to a group so they can start making friends.  I feel bad about pulling them away from their friends, and I feel bad that we haven't really clicked with anyone yet.  What we really need is to find a small group with kids their ages.  Next week will be the start of the Greek Mythology classes I'm teaching here at home, so that will hopefully fit the bill.

This is the hard part of moving far away from home.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Disney = Homesickness Cure

Last night when I was talking to my father, he mentioned that my mother thought Colwyn sounded really sad and homesick when she was talking to him on the phone earlier.  My mother has said that a few times, but I usually listen in on their conversations, and he's never sounded particularly sad.  I think she may be confusing 'distracted' with 'sad'.  But regardless, I spent a while this morning talking to Colwyn and Lachlann, trying to gauge how sad and/or homesick they're really feeling.  They said they were a bit homesick, but that they were mostly enjoying living down here.  I think it's helped that it's been warm the past few days, so we've spent a lot of time outdoors and in the pool.

Anyway.. we hadn't done anything Disney since before Christmas, so I decided to take the kids over to spend some time on property enjoying Disney transportation.  That sounds incredibly boring, I know, but the kids really enjoy riding the different types of transport, and some Disney is better than no Disney, right?  We're all frustrated that we haven't been able to get our passes yet.

We went to Port Orleans to park and spend some time in the gift shop.  Even though there are prettier resorts and Disney-er resorts, I think Port Orleans Riverside is my favorite.  It just feels like home.  And the kids love checking out gift shops, even if we can't buy anything.  We hopped on a bus headed towards the Magic Kingdom.

After arriving at the Magic Kingdom, we waited until the bus emptied and then the kids asked for transportation cards.  They lucked out and got a handful, and Lachlann gave the bus driver a thank you card.  We headed straight over to the ferry, which we had never been on before.  

The kids really enjoyed the ferry.  We had to check out both decks, of course.  I pointed out the new DVC rooms at the Poly and boy, was Colwyn impressed.  He is convinced that when he becomes an Imagineer, he'll be able to live in one.  

Next up was the Epcot monorail.  We hadn't ridden it since moving, I guess I was holding out until we got pretty desperate.  The Epcot monorail actually loops through the park, so you can see all the different attractions and you get a nice view of World Showcase.  The kids were really excited to see the rides, but as we pulled into the monorail station, Lachlann said, "Okay, we shouldn't do that again.  It's too depressing to see everyone getting to do our favorite rides."  Oops.

I'm not sure if it's just us, or what.. but Fiona really likes to play on the poles in the monorail cars.  The other kids do too, of course, but the only problem is with Fiona.  (We only let them do this when there's nobody standing, by the way.)  The kids like to pretend that they're fire station poles, and try to jump up on them and slide down.  Fiona, however, likes to twirl around as she's sliding down.  It looks exactly like pole dancing.  It's awkward, and I find myself saying, quite loudly for the benefit of other people who may or may not be giving me weird looks, "Oh, Fiona, you're a great firefighter!  Are you pretending the alarms are going off and you need to slide down the pole to get to your fire truck?"  I don't want to put my adult stuff on her and make her feel ashamed of what she's doing, but.. eesh.

Niall wasn't quite done riding the monorail when we got back to the Ticket and Transportation Center, we switched over to the Resort Monorail and did a loop on that - picking up more transportation cards along the way.  Then it was back on the ferry to go back to the Magic Kingdom.

We caught a bus back to Port Orleans, giving our bus driver another thank you card when we disembarked at the main stop.  We all love giving out these cards to cast members we like, mainly because they always seem so thrilled to get them.  The kids lobbied hard to get a magic cookie bar before heading home, but we had stayed out longer than I expected and we had to get home so I could cook dinner.  I don't know how I resisted on that one, since magic cookie bars are my absolute favorite, but I did.

It's not the same as going into one of the parks and riding rides, but it was a little dose of Disney, and it definitely served as a reminder of how cool living here is.  On the way home, the kids all declared that they want to put all their Christmas money towards their annual passes.  What cuties.