These are letters to Jack, my son, and my daughter, Audrey. You have given me the gift of motherhood. This is just a little gift back. I want to share my experiences with you of your childhood from my perspective of watching you grow - of being your Mom.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Festival Park


We are back from vacation and it was better than I could do justice to describe. We flew down to Florida for 7 days of theme parks. No, not Disney World. We did that a year ago and, while it was fun, this time was SOOOOO much better.Why does it take so long for planes to leave for vacation?Here we have cars and a laptop. This flight will be a piece of cake.A flip down tray on the seat in front and a window shade? This plane deal is pretty cool!We got between park passes for seven days for both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Theme park. They both have a good measure of young children's entertainment, so between the two parks, we would drift visiting Dr. Suess land, Barney's park,Shrek, Curious George Playland, Woody Woodpecker's roller coaster,the Simpson's, and the E.T. ride. There was also a lot of Nascar paraphenalia at a Nascar restaurant.I don't know how it happened, but somehow all on your own, you are a Nascar fan.You walked amongst the racecars as though it was a religious experience running your hands along the cracks and crashes on the cars surfaces and in an awed whisper saying "crashes..." as though the physical confirmation of these actual crashes was just the total of all things great that you could possibly imagine.Smile! What do you mean you're going blind?Better.... :)Exploring the parks involved a lot of walking, but we did more than our fair share of eating to make up for those burned calories because everything tastes better on vacation!Your favorite ride was the Woody Woodpecker ride which you called the "laughing rollercoaster" or the "laughing bird"! :) "FASTER THAN A RACE CAR, Mommy!!" you would excitedly declare at the end of the ride and ask if we could go again.

It was a good season for the parks as they weren't terribly crowded so we would ride that rollercoaster about 20 times in a row each day until we were off to another park attraction.

The ride employees were very familiar with you and would smile and laugh at your excitement. They enjoyed the repeat visits and watching you race as fast as your little legs could propel you around corners to navigate back through the lines and go again. I think your second favorite was the Curious George Water playground.First of all, it's a big cartoon land.Second of all, it is spitting water out of every section of it.You couldn't go two feet without getting wet from something which in child=GREAT FUN!And since we usually visited this section of the park AFTER the roller coaster and before going home for naptime, it was a good chance for Daddy and I to catch our breath for a minute.No adult participation required.BOY, you can JUMP!A few years back, we brought you to this park. You weren't able to do as much as we did this year, but last time, we did attend a live Barney concert and so we had to do that again.After all this activity, we had to eat lunch at the Laughing Roller Coaster Bird restaurant before heading home for nap.It was outside where it was warm and since you were drenched from the waterplay, this was the place to eat.Not to mention the fact that it was LAUGHING BIRD and that means it rocked. The park closed around dinnertime, so we didn't generally go back there in the afternoons.There was still plenty to do and see. You loved going to the M&M store at the mall.They had an actual M&M race car.You were thrilled!The rest of vacation followed along the same pattern.We would go from onside of the park to the other by day and by afternoon, we would visit other sites in Florida.On the Universal Studios side of the park, there is an entire section named Dr. Suess land which was fantastic with everything looking exactly like it came straight from a Dr. Suess book.Your favorites were the Suess-0-sel, One Fish - Two Fish (anther wet ride), and The Cat in the Hat ride.We met a lot of characters at the parks, too.Initially, I would say that you were a little intimidated, but before long, you were giving out hugs to these large creatures without a concern.My favorite time on vacation, though, was at mealtimes.We all were forced to slow down long enough to get some food in our bellies and to get a laugh out of being together.Here you and Daddy are demonstating a unique french-fry-sharing technique.I can't say if this way is better than any other UNTIL you factor in the entertainment value and then it outscores them all.There were water sprouts throughout the park because it was hot in Florida, even though it was September.For me, watching you in water has an affect similar to watching fish swim in an aquarium.There is something comforting about it - maybe that it never fails to produce a smile and a fun time.I love this picture. You wanted to meet Spiderman. You were so excited, but the guy looked SO much like the real thing that you were terrified.You were squeezing my neck so tight, that I was a little afraid I was going to choke.Meeting the Scooby Doo crew was fun, but Shaggy took being in his pot-smoking, laid back guy character very seriously. Peace, dude.Next we tried on silly hats.I love trying on hats.It's fun!Check out your tricked-out ride. We only sprang for this on Day 3 because we figured you'd be doing your own walking, but there is a LOT of ground to cover at this park and you're no fool. You would become wise to the distance and want to be carried, so we sprung for this nice little ride with the cup holder to make it fun for all.More Woody Woodpecker roller coaster!And MORE!That roller coaster was the beginning and the end to you.

The excitement level that it brought out of you was so intense, it caused you to do this while running to get in line to do it again.I didn't think a body could twist like that, but your excited run was so enthusiastic, that you became a contortionist.And you were FAST!You also got a chance to meet your idol in cartoon/person.I think you were a little awed at first, but warmed up as I persuaded you that he was just as excited to meet you as you were to meet him.Laughing Bird - wow.Time for more water play!Did I mention it was hot? :)Over the course of this vacation, we met more characters, and got really good at hugging them.We spent a lot of time checking out the gift shops and being silly with each other.Trying on hats is just fun - I love it.I was thinking this could be my dress-up-fancy hat. What do you think?Hang Ten, Jack!Check out that wave!Now this move requires a significant level of expertise.
More car worshipping... You can touch it gently, but know that it's MINE!Here's the game - who can touch the most cars the fastest?And the winner gets?....Oh, that's just silly! EVERYONE WINS!You get to touch real race cars!Which brings me to these pictures, which simply are the best.You were excited to get your picture taken as one of the Nascar drivers...And you blended right in - couldn't even tell that you weren't part of the group...You are so incredibly adorable!So, overall, your favorite rides were definitely Woody Woodpecker (aka Laughing Bird) and E.T. which means that we got you to fall in love with things that you won't see anywhere else in this day and age.You were asking for an E.T. race car and I thought that we'd have to go back in a time machine to about 20 years ago and see if they made any.But we DID succeed in getting your onto the Simpson's Ride even though you were too young to go on it. Really, that was a brilliant move of parenting genius. What could go wrong?Daddy sat next to a couple of nuns and you and me sat next to some burly tatooed men. The ride was a virtual rollercoaster with lots to get the heart pounding. It was a great ride and I loved it, but in retrospect, you were too young for it. You told us you didn't like it.But that's all - no nightmares and you still love the Simpson's. You loved getting to meet them up close and in person, too!

This vacation was so incredible, I couldn't have imagined anything better. At the end, I was like my Mom on my childhood vacations, crying and saying it was the best vacation ever.But, you know what? It really was. I had such a wonderful vacation with you and Daddy - it was a very special time together and I'm so grateful!



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