Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ORLANDO or Bust!

My daughter and I just spent the last week in Orlando at a resort called Blue Heron Beach Resort.  We got the perfect room for flying paper airplanes off the balcony (9th floor) and had a view of the lake and pool from one side, while the fireworks from Epcot could be seen off the other side.  We both brought our boys and spent a few days indulging in kid stuff.   It was exhausting, but we had fun.  It's rare that we get to spend such quality time together anymore.

We went to the newest Legoland just south of Orlando and it was hot and humid.  Actually a miserable day for anything outdoors by most accounts, but we made the best of it.  I loved seeing how they laid out the park on the property that used to be Cypress Gardens.  Unfortunately, because it is such a new park, there is little shade.  I have been to other Legolands in Billund, Denmark and Carlsbad, California and both are so much fun for kids under 12.  Landon is only 1 so most of the rides are too big for him.  It's probably best to go when you're about 48 inches tall so you can enjoy everything.  They have shows too.  We enjoyed a 4D movie starring Lego characters and saw a little bit of the pirate show which includes waterskiing and jetskiing by costumed characters- some are even wearing big Lego like pirate gear.  Can't think it would be very comfortable in that heat so I give them a lot of credit.  Theme parks are expensive, but luckily I found a coupon on  line for a free kids' ticket through Pepsi so that saved some money.  Food was healthy and good too.  Would love to go back in cooler weather!

Then we spent 2 days at Disney World after that.  Have you ever done 3 days of theme parks in 95 degree heat?  We wore all of us out, but if you're there and have tickets, why not persevere?  Again, we were lucky with tickets because they had a military discount of 4 days (with water parks and Disney quest included) for $165.  We were there on my 50th birthday, so they gave me a nice badge and I received greetings all day long.  We started out with a character breakfast at Disney Beach resort where my daughter surprised me.  I think I enjoyed the hugs from Minnie, Goofy, and Donald as much as the kids, and the food was great!

It reached nearly 100 degrees on Saturday and the park had near record numbers for a holiday weekend, according to one of the workers I spoke with.  We are troopers though!  Omar used to use his stroller like a wheelchair when we have been here before due to his inability to walk long distances with the down syndrome, but now that he's gotten bigger, we can't do that.  We did have a pass that allowed using a separate entrance when it was available, which really just makes it like having a fast pass, but the use of it depends entirely on the employee's judgement so in most cases, we still had to wait like everyone else to get on the rides.  We didn't do so many rides on Saturday at Magic Kingdom, but we did get a glimpse of the new Fantasyland they are working on and it's going to be amazing.  Our favorite ride was in Tomorrowland- Buzz Lightyear.  But of course, Omar loves haunted mansion and Splash Mountain too.  On Sunday, it was still hot and crowded but we really wanted to see the Star Wars Weekend at Hollywood studios.  They had all the people who did the voices for the original movies and many of the stars.  We managed to see 3CPO and that made Omar very happy!
Then we ended up the day at Epcot where we ate in Morocco and let the kids play in the splash pad.  It was just after the Epcot Garden Festival so many of the bushes were still cut like characters.  Very interesting to see how beautiful they can make it.  It's magical!  It's Disney!

On our last day there, we did some major pool time and heard about an ice cream dessert called "The Kitchen Sink" which sounded so super delicious that we had to try it.  It is served at Beaches & Cream at Disney Beach Resort.  You can see the list of ingredients at this link.  We didn't finish it all.  Unfortunately it kind of turns to leftover soup after about 20 minutes so you have to eat FAST!’s-beach-club-resort/

Overall it was a great weekend, and to top it all off, I even read an entire book just for fun!  13 things checked off my list of 50 in the first month with some more planned and in the process.  Having fun being 50 so far!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day at the Boerner Botanical Garden

Unlimited sunshine and blue skies- a rare occurrence here

I loved this tree - so many twists and turns

The peonies were just starting to bloom

The structure in the rose garden- it will be pretty in another month or so

Lots of green in all shapes and sizes

rock garden and fountain

My grandson Landon having fun in the field

nice water feature
Sunshine.  My kids.  My grandson. Birds chirping.  Ahhhh..... Life is good!  My daughter said it was easy to choose what to do for me for Mother's Day, because all she had to do was look at my list of 50 things, and she planned the perfect outing.  We went out for breakfast at a local cafe where it was nice enough to sit outdoors, and then we headed to Boerner Botanical Garden in Hales Corners.  There is something so peaceful about being among plants and trees, butterflies and bees.  We had a great couple of hours chasing the younger boys around the gardens.  Well, my older son Jake did most of the chasing.   I'll let the photos do the talking this time around.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lunch with my Mom

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and it was a fine day to meet my mom at the local mall.  She lives in a nursing home and only has one leg, so she is wheelchair bound.  And to make matters worse, she is having the other leg removed next week so I wanted to do something with her before she gets stuck in the hospital for several days to weeks.

We are very lucky that Milwaukee county has a van service that has a lift so even people in wheelchairs are able to leave the nursing home for outings, and the cost is a value at $4 a trip.  Living in a nursing home is okay in that all your basic needs are met.  And they do a good job of trying to create a fun social environment by planning daily activities, but after all, you still are pretty much stuck there on a daily basis.  The food is "healthy" so in other words, has no salt, sugar, butter, or anything else that makes it profoundly delicious.  Once in awhile, everyone likes a splurge.

We did some window shopping because she hasn't really been out for just looking and people watching in a long time.  I was surprised that she was so interested in what was in style now.  She wanted to try on hats and look at scarves and pins.  It's all about accessorizing with the staff at the nursing home because they wear scrubs but try to add a bit of flair.  We spent another half hour just browsing knickknacks and yard ornaments and such.  Then we had lunch at the Cheesecake factory and my husband was able to meet us.  After salads bread, and soup, served with REAL butter,  she said she was full.  But I was able to convince her that she could take some cheesecake for her and her roommate back to the home with her.  She chose banana cream and strawberry slices.  YUMM!

She was really happy.  It felt good that everything went right and she had an enjoyable day.  She asked when we could do something like this again- maybe go to the lakefront museums.  I'm hoping there will be a few more outings this summer.  We have to enjoy the company while she is her with us.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Milwaukee Museum Mile

Today was a rainy awful day- the perfect kind of day for doing museums.  We were fortunate that there was a new museum tour featured, called the Milwaukee Museum Mile.  The name is kind of a stretch because there is more than a mile between them and one really isn't a museum.  It's more like a gallery in the lobby of a high rise building.  But ok, it works to market them as a package and today it was free for 5 museums and I LOVE FREE!!!

So as part of my 50 extraordinary things to do, this is the second one I'm doing.  I wanted to check out some local museums and these are small and doable in just  couple of hours.  Usually when I try to do something like this, there are challenges with Omar, but it wasn't bad today because they had everything planned so well.  If you find a special event that includes food, drink, and crafts....well, I think it's perfect for Omar.  They even offered a shuttle, which was great because it was raining and parking is so hard to find that most people would have given up.

Here are a few photos from our little excursion.  You can learn more at if you want to do this yourself.

North Point Lighthouse

The best part of this lighthouse tour for Omar was climbing to the top
 and getting to see lightning out on the lake

There are about 4 sets of these stairs and then a steep ladder to the top

At the Museum of Wisconsin Art at Saint John's on the Lake
 they had a couple of patient volunteers making origami with the kids

Here is the frog they made

Omar loves to take pictures so here I am at the top of the stairs
 at Charles Allis Art Museum
An unusual bear sitting atop a petrified wood table with quartz
 that resembles a block of ice at Charles Allis Art Museum

A chair and foot stool made from logs.
The axe that is the back rest is made of wood too.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The LIST! 50 Extraordinary things to do in 5 months to celebrate turning 50

For anyone reading this, these may not seem too extraordinary to you, but I have chosen them because at this point in life they seem to agree with my focus for the rest of my life.  I want better health, better relationships, and more fun in my life.  I think if we don't intentionally strive for that, it just doesn't happen.  So here are my ideas in no particular order.   I encourage you to choose some of these or create your own list to help me celebrate life.  Most of these don't require a great deal of money or time.  But then again, some do.    And if you see something that you would like to do with me, let me know!  I will enjoy having the wonderful company of family and friends!  

  1. Write a love letter
  2. Make peace.  Make amends.  Renew relationships.
  3. Host a garden party, British style
  4. Take a cooking class
  5. Visit the national trails/seashore in WI.  We don't have any national parks.
  6. Grow my own vegetables
  7. Bring cupcakes to the Veterans home
  8. Go to a baseball game and enjoy a hotdog
  9. Disneyworld with the kiddos
  10. Ride a segway
  11. Make a wedding cake
  12. Check out the newest Legoland, which is in FL
  13. Write a cookbook
  14. Sailing Lesson
  15. Fishing trip
  16. Volunteer at Soup kitchen
  17. Kayak or canoe
  18. Redecorate a bedroom- sadly we have 2 that are still with barren walls after living here 7 years
  19. Write a thank you note to my mom and take her on a date
  20. Ice skate in summer
  21. Pajama party with my sister
  22. Learn to use my camera NOT on automatic modes and to prove this, I will photograph fireworks
  23. Ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle
  24. Have a family photo session with ALL of our kids and grandson
  25. Enter a contest
  26. Visit all my living aunts and uncles
  27. Visit my dad's grave
  28. Take a bike trip
  29. Visit Amish country
  30. Picnic at the beach
  31. Host a fancy dinner party
  32. Investigate some museums in our area that I've never been to
  33. Clean up a public garden
  34. Take the Chicago river boat cruise
  35. Do a city walking tour
  36. Visit a Botanic garden
  37. Try a new restaurant and dish that sounds like something I'd never normally eat
  38. Read a book just for self help books allowed
  39. Make a piece of jewelery that will remind me of this year
  40. Visit old friends from school and the Air Force
  41. Write to a local paper about my adventure
  42. Spa day
  43. Follow up on physical and do all the stuff you're supposed to do at age 50...ugh
  44. Schedule a monthly date night
  45. Have a girls day/night out
  46. Do a fun run
  47. Take each of my kids on a date of their choice
  48. Roller blade along the lake or maybe even go to the roller derby
  49. Learn to meditate
  50. Go back to my childhood neighborhood