Monday, April 30, 2012

Busy and Restful All In One

It was another full weekend for me. I guess it’s that time of year. Friday night I went to see Rapunzel with my friend Kendra. It was the last production for Fantasy Playhouse this season and it was the best. The girl who played the dragon was hilarious! Kendra and I both enjoyed the show despite the fact that we were sitting by a creepy guy who kept turning around to stare at us. I don’t know if he was looking at me or her, but it was really weird and made me uncomfortable. I think it made Kendra uncomfortable too. Very strange.

As I mentioned last week, Panoply was this past weekend, but sadly, I did not make an appearance. I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule. Each night of the weekend at promptly 9:00, the sky would boom with the Panoply fireworks. They were so loud it sounded as though they were being shot from my own backyard. I had planned on loading up The Tide and going down there on Sunday night to watch but by the time Sunday night rolled around, I didn’t want to leave the couch. I’m sure you know how that goes.

Saturday I went to the gym and made my weekly trip to Publix and then spent the rest of the day cleaning and doing laundry and lots of other fun things like that. I mowed the lawn that afternoon and even brought out the weed eater to trim up the edges of the house and shed. I also potted some flowers for the porch. I bagged the grass clippings and while I was working in the back, the mailman was kind enough to run over my bag of grass and empty it in front of my neighbor’s house. So, I had to bag it again. Thanks a lot, Mr. Postman!

I spent Saturday evening studying for the Bible class I was teaching on Sunday morning and also watching the Stanley Cup playoffs. Sunday I went to church and napped. So, it was a busy weekend but also there was time for rest as well, which is always a good thing. Hopefully your weekend was filled with fun and a little relaxation too!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Is The Dragon In You

On Thursday night, I went to the circus with my parents, Erika, and my parent's friends Wayne and Shirley. My parents, Wayne and Shirley stopped by to pick up me and Erika a little after 6:00. I told everyone that it was going to look like we were the first act of the circus with six people piling out of the van. It would look like a clown car and people would wonder how many more were going to come out.

We arrived a little bit before 6:30 which is when the doors opened for the pre-circus show where you could go down to the floor and watch the animals and entertainers up close and personal. The line to get in was very long but my dad in all his excitement managed to find a way to get us up by the door and cut in front of about 100 or 200 people when the doors opened. I think it was the most rebellious thing Erika has ever done in her life.

We made our way inside, found our seats and promptly went to the floor for the fun. We got "The Greatest Show On Earth" temporary tattoos on our hands first; sadly, mine washed off in the shower Friday morning. I was really hoping I would still have it to show off at work. We watched the elephant paint a couple of pictures (once again we didn’t win the picture), watched a horse run around and perform some jumps, and watched some dogs perform a few tricks. Soon it was time for the show to start and so we found our seats in preparation for the show to begin.

This year’s show had a dragon theme and the song they sang to open and close the show had the line “Is the dragon in you?” Needless to say it was a catchy tune and I’m sure Erika and I were not the only ones singing it the next day.

The first half of the show had performances by the Ringling Clowns, of course, and also folks performing stunts on horses which was pretty amazing. I’m pretty sure I gasped a time or two. There were tigers and a lion for the big cat performance. Some of those tigers were pretty fired up; I would not have wanted to be in the cage with them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lion at the circus before; maybe I have and just can’t remember. The guy riding a motorcycle on a tight rope made an appearance again, only this time there were two – one on each side of the arena and instead of one girl dangling below there were two. There were various other acts such as girls swinging around by their hair and girls twisting and turning all sorts of ways in glass orbs. The first part of the show ended with a kung fu performance that was also rather impressive – well, I was impressed at least.

The second half of the show had the flying trapeze which Erika which is one of Erika’s favorite acts. There was the always wonderful display of elephants, this show had eight elephants and of course more performances by clowns. There were also tricks by dogs, cats and horses. As mentioned every time I write about the circus, my favorite act of all, The Globe of Steel (or The Globe of Death as I like to call it) took place in the second half of the show. This year they put EIGHT people in the Globe of Death! EIGHT! I was so impressed! Two years ago they had six and last year I don’t remember how many were in there last year because I didn’t mention the number in my post about last year’s show. EIGHT people! That’s amazing!

It was a great circus once again and I hope a lot of you were able to go by and check it out. Sadly, the circus leaves town tonight (Sunday) and will be moving on to the next city to entertain some other circus lover. I told everyone not to be surprised if I one day joined the circus; the good thing is I’m pretty sure The Tide would be welcomed too. My dad also said he wouldn’t mind running away with the circus. So, I told my mom when she goes on to a better place (not that we want that to happen any time soon just for clarification) that me and my dad would just join the circus. She said she would look down on us and say “there’s my crazy daughter and husband, running away with the circus,” or something like that. I guess I should maybe work on an act. Actually I would just want to be the person who organizes and manages the show. I think I could handle that. It would definitely make for good blogging material!

A Ringling Clown

Getting a tattoo - yes, this photo is from 2012, my dad just likes to wear this shirt to the circus!

I thought this was a pretty horse

Maybe we can teach The Tide and Scout to do this

The Ringmaster

The big cats

My favorite - the elephants

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Circus Is Here

Listen, I'm sure I don't have to tell you all how much I love the circus. I'm pretty sure you already know that I love it; after all, I go every year it comes to town and then always post about it afterwards. Well, I'm happy to announce that Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus is officially once again in Huntsville and I couldn't be happier about it.

I found out the circus was coming months ago, back in January I guess and sent my dad down to buy our tickets the day they went on sale. He bought six tickets, three for me, him and my mom, one for Erika and two more for whoever else we decided to bring along (turns out that ended up being Wayne and Shirley, friends of my parents).

On Tuesday during lunch, I was perusing the internet as I always do on my lunch break and I saw that the Elephant walk was going to be at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday. I thought about it for all of two seconds and decided I would go down and watch the elephants unload if I wasn't running too late in that morning. I leave around 6:40-6:45 to go to work anyway so stopping by the train depot which is about two miles from my house wasn't really out of the way or too early.

I must have subconsciously been really anxious to see those elephants because I woke up before the alarm clock and as hard as I tired to rest my eyes for a few more minutes, it just wasn't happening. So, I got up, got ready and headed on down to the train station. There weren't as many people there as have been in years past. I'm assuming that's because it was at 6:30 a.m., whereas in the past it's been later in the afternoon. I made my way over to the trains and the workers had already unloaded a lot of the horses. Not long after arriving, I could see big elephant feet walking on the other side of the train and sure enough the elephants were headed our way. I snapped a few photos, watched the elephants and horses trot by and then headed back to the car. The guy next to me was disappointed because he thought all the animals were going to be parading down the street. I, however, knew better since I had been a couple of years ago and also had the same feeling of disappointment.

Apparently years ago more of the animals were a part of the animal walk but now they only let the elephants and horses parade around in front of folks. However, I wonder how it is that all the other animals arrive because the railroad tracks do not go directly up to the arena. So, how do they get there? Perhaps they walk them over throughout the day? I know the circus has more elephants than walked down the street today as well. I think there were only about five, but in the finale of the circus, there are always about 12 or so elephants. Ringling, you've got some 'splainin to do! Maybe the next time the circus comes to town I'll take the day off and just camp out at the train station with my packed lunch and see all the goings on of the circus folks and animals.

Anyway, the circus is in town and I am thrilled. I saw the show on Thursday night and it was great. There will be a post about that soon. If you have a chance, be sure and see the circus while it's in town - it is, after all, The Greatest Show On Earth!

If the circus isn't for you, do not fear because there is so much going on in Huntsville this weekend! Here are some other fun items to choose from:

Panoply - After being canceled last year because of the April 27th tornadoes (we didn't have power for five days ya know), Panoply is back for it's 30th anniversary! There are a lot of various dance, singing, and music events you can watch and there will be crafts a plenty for kids of all ages. The global village is back which is an area that displays cultural items from countries around the world. On Saturday at the Showcase Stage is the Official Alabama State Fiddling Championship. Each night there will be a fireworks display and on Sunday night, the weekend closes out with my fellow Hoover High Class of 1995 classmate, Taylor Hicks. Passes for the weekend are $10 or if you only want to go one day, the price is $5. Panoply is always one of my favorite Huntsville events. I have really fond memories of going as a child and I hope to stop by for a while on Saturday to listen to some music and eat some junk food if nothing else.

Fantasy Playhouse presents Rapunzel - This is the last show for the 2011-2012 Fantasy Playhouse season and the last weekend for the show as well. There are productions on Friday night and Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. I'm going on Friday night with my friend Kendra and I'm looking forward to it. I don't think I've ever seen a live production of Rapunzel.

Beard and Stache Competition - This is being hosted by Dixieland Beard Coalition and will take place at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday at Lowe Mill. Benefits will proceed disaster recovery efforts and this is sure to be a blast. I doubt I will have time to stop by and watch this, but I have no doubt it will be hilarious! While there, you can pick up some good eats from Happy Tummy!

On Saturday there is a nature hike that begins at 10 a.m. up on Monte Sano. Park across from Burritt Museum if you are interested in participating in that. This is only 2-3 miles and they are encouraging folks to bring cameras as there will be plenty of wildflowers to photograph. I would like to do this one, but will have to pass this week as I have large plans of mowing the lawn after spin class Saturday morning. I don't know about you, but lately there just have not been enough hours in my weekend.

I'm sure there are a lot more activities taking place in Huntsville this weekend so get out and find something to do and have fun doing it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Journey Home

Well, the vacation recap is almost complete. I'm sure you are probably glad. Thanks for bearing with me through it all. One day I will look back on this blog and be able to remember just exactly what I did on vacation, which to me, is a good thing as my dad would say.

The Friday of vacation was spent driving back home with my dad. We dropped my mom off at the airport that morning around 10:30 and we headed north in the van. Mother's flight wasn't until 4:30 in the afternoon but we wanted to go ahead and hit the road so we left her to fend for herself. My dad was nervous up until the moment she got on the plane. He was so afraid her flight would get canceled or something. He said said it was the biggest gamble he had ever taken. I wasn't worried at all - either I'm a more positive thinker or less caring; I hope it's that I'm a positive thinker! Thankfully the flight was not canceled and mother made it home by the time we were in Atlanta.

My dad drove the first leg of the journey until we had to stop for gas. I don't think I mentioned, but the gas gauge is broken on the van. All my parents know is that no one can seem to repair it and they ran out of gas at 214 miles on the trip odometer. So, every 214 miles or a little less, we had to fill up. After the first stop which was right before we crossed into Georgia, I took the reigns. My dad wanted me to drive through Atlanta as well since we would be hitting the capitol of Georgia right during rush hour. I didn't mind this at all because my dad is a ball of stress when he drives in massive traffic and it is annoying. I mean, I don't like to be stuck in traffic either but there's nothing I can do about it so (most of the time) I'm not going to huff and puff about it. My dad, however, huffs and puffs and complains every step of the way, which is humorous at times, but mostly, as I mentioned, annoying. So, I drove from the first stop, through the next stop and through Atlanta rush hour traffic. The traffic gods must have been on our side though because despite the rush hour time, we still managed to make good time and we were able to book it through some parts of Atlanta, which was more fun than riding a roller coaster! I think it was my favorite part of my drive, and I don't even like driving as you probably know.

We stopped for dinner at Panera on the northwest side of Atlanta and then my dad drove the remainder of the way home. We reached my house right about 8:30 p.m.; so, with the stops for gas and dinner, we made the trip in about 11 hours - not too bad - and , miraculously, I did not sleep one minute of the time. I'm like a baby in that riding in a car lulls me to sleep but by the grace of the good Lord, I managed to stay awake the whole journey, which was great because I don't like it when people snooze on me when I'm driving long distances. In my older and wiser years, I've managed to become a lot better about staying awake on road trips. I guess I realize the importance to the driver.

The weekend after we got back was spent catching up on sleep, catching up on the DVR and finishing the book I was reading - I promise a book review is coming soon. It will probably be next week. I managed to do a lot of reading on the trip, especially the last day we were there, and the book I was reading turned out to be a really lovely and interesting read. So, stay tuned for that and a whole lot more!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Last Day Was A Bust

For our last day in Orlando, we didn't have any firm plans. We were going to play it by ear, possibly go to Magic Kingdom or go on some other fun adventure. As it turns out, however, the day didn't have much of an adventure in store at all.

I woke up at 7:00 or a little before as always and went ahead and gt a shower. The night before my dad said he didn't really want to go to a park on Thursday because he was quite tired - not to mention that he had been sick most of the week. We thought it was from his colitis but as it turns out he was actually sick from the Melting Pot food. He probably didn't fully cook a piece of chicken or something. However, by the time Friday morning rolled around he wanted to go and so did I but it wasn't meant to be. My mother was having some issues on this particular morning (which we won't get into or she might stab me with butter knife) and we had to wait on her issues to clear up before we could do anything since she had planned to get out on this particular day as well.

By the time 1:30 in the afternoon rolled around, we still had not left the condo. I spent the whole morning and into the afternoon laying the bed fully dressed and reading while waiting on the folks to get it in motion, but it just wasn't happening. To say that I was hungry was also an understatement as there wasn't much food left at the condo at this point, at least nothing that didn't contain a lot of processed sugar.

My dad finally agreed to leave with me in tow a little after 1:30. We headed to the Outlet Mall because at this late stage of the day, what else are you going to do? Not 20 minutes after we arrived, my mother called for us to come back. We spent a little while longer at the mall because well, we were there. I wasn't really ready to leave when we did, but we did and arrived back at the condo around 3:30. It was 5:00 before we all three finally left for dinner which was at Miller's Ale House and was the best meal I had the whole time I was away (prime rib).

After we ate dinner, we went to the movie theater at Downtown Disney and watched The Hunger Games. I enjoyed it just as much the second time around and my parents enjoyed it as well. I wanted to pay putt-putt that evening, but since it was so late when we got out of the movie decided against it since we would have a long drive the next day. I was really disappointed with how the last day turned out, but it was out of my control and sadly, life doesn’t always turn out how we want it to.

There was a lot more I would have loved to have done while we were in Orlando. I wish we had made some time for Magic Kingdom (I really wanted to see the parade at the end of the day and the fireworks) and I would have loved to have had a day for Disney Hollywood Studios, formerly MGM Studios – I remember enjoying that as a kid. I also would like to have visited Animal Kingdom. It opened the year after I went when I was a kid and I have never been. I also would have liked to have stopped by ESPN Wide World of Sports to see what all was there. Alas, there was no time for all of these things and for the first time ever I left my vacation feeling unsatisfied; maybe unaccomplished would be a better word. I don’t know; I just know I wish I had about five more days so I could have seen all the things I wanted to see because it’s doubtful I will ever be back; but, you never know.

Overall, it was a great week. We all got along for the most part. There were a few tiffs here and there but I think we did okay considering we are all Type A people and have been known to have some fierce arguments. We like to put the fun in dysfunctional as the saying goes. I enjoyed the week off from work and was glad to have the opportunity to spend time with my family and have fun as well. So, as far as that goes there are no complaints and I’m glad I we were all able to go and spend the week together.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Return To Hogsmeade

It's back to the vacation recap - hope you aren't tired of hearing about it. On Wednesday of our vacation week, my dad and I made a return visit to Universal Studios. This time, however, we spent the majority of the day on the Universal Studios side of the park.

My dad took the wheelchair again which worked to our benefit because we were able to get in to a lot of the shows without having to wait in line - not all of them, but some. The first show we saw was the Shrek 4D show which was really great. I've always been a fan a Shrek, the dry humor cracks me up and I love the Gingerbread Man; so, I was looking forward to seeing what the show was all about. The movie portion of the show was in 3D, I guess the fourth dimension was the fact that our seats moved and there were other effects as well such as water being sprayed on us at times like when Donkey sneezed, air blowing on our legs that were supposed to be and felt like spiders among other things. It was a really fun show.

I think the next show we went to was called Twister which was based on the movie Twister and showed video of the movie and then you went into a room and watched a simulation of a twister coming through a town. Let me tell you, when you live through a tornado about once a month, the show was pretty mild in comparison, but it was still fun to watch.

After the Twister show, I rode The Mummy roller coaster which is based on the movie The Mummy. This roller coaster was a lot of fun. Tony had told me about it before I went down there and some people from church had been down for Spring Break and also mentioned that it was a good one and it lived up to my expectations. This was an indoor roller coaster and was an absolute thrill. Towards the end, the room you are in catches on fire and the heat is very intense. I rode this one five times in a row while my dad watched a Blues Brothers show. It was in this area of the park that we ran into a really tall Egyptian dude.

Throughout the day we watched other shows, including a Fear Factor show throughout most of which I kept my eyes closed - I cannot stand to watch people be covered in snakes or eat disgusting things. We also saw a Terminator show (I think the seats moved in this one too, but mine didn't because I was in the wheelchair companion seat and I don;t think it was set up to move; either that or it was broken) and a show with animals in it which we both loved. One of the best shows was called Disaster and they used people in the audience to make a "movie". the movie was about an earthquake on the subway and we all rode a subway like ride into the subway station and had to act like we were dying, screaming, crying, having a heart attack, etc. My dad made the film too. It was pretty darn funny.

I rode some other rides on this side and then we took a break for dinner. There are a lot of restaurants and shops at the entrance to Universal and so we ate there at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. The food was good, but overpriced in my opinion. Fortunately I finished my dinner before a little kid walked by and lot his right to my left. It was less than pleasant. Call me crazy, but I think if I were the restaurant manager I would have offered to pay for the food of the folks who were almost puked on, or at least offered a free dessert or something, but that didn't happen. We had to pay for our dinner despite someone losing their dinner basically right on our shoes.

We then headed back to the Universal side and rode the E.T. ride which I thought was neat. It was a slow paced ride so my dad rode it as well. I also took the time to ride the roller coaster at the front of the park which is called Hollywood Rip Ride RockIt. the initial hill on this one was so tall that I kept my eyes closed on the way up. After that we headed back over to the Islands of Adventure side to visit Hogsmeade one last time. At this point, my legs were so tired from walking that I actually had to request that we stop for a break for a minute or two. We finally made it back over and I rode the Dragon Challenge a few times and that awesome Forbidden Journey ride one last time. I got a final frozen butter beer and then it was time for the park to close. I actually wanted to check out the water rides which I was saving for last but unfortunately, I once again ran out of time. I don't know why, but the parks closed at 9:00 which seems way early to me. I guess they must be open later in the summer, but you would think they would stay open until at least 10:00 or 11:00 in the spring as well. A lot of folks vacation in the spring. In all it was a really good day and we probably could have knocked it all out if we had just one more hour; despite running short of time, we still enjoyed the day and it was a much more successful trip than our first visit.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Music, Laughter and a Fish Fry Too

It was a very busy weekend for me. I’m going to take a break from the vacation recap to tell about my weekend and then will return to the vacation recap tomorrow. I actually meant to do some blogging over the weekend, continuing the vacation recap, but I was so busy there wasn’t any time for writing. So, I’ll finish the vacation tales beginning tomorrow.

On Friday night, I met my parents for dinner at Wings and then we went to see Huntsville High’s production of Oklahoma. I have mentioned Huntsville High Theater on here before. This group does a phenomenal job in all of their performances and Friday night was no exception.

Oklahoma is one of my favorites. It has so many classic songs to sing along to and I have always enjoyed watching it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always felt sorry for Judd. Anyway, I picked up our tickets on Thursday night so I could make sure they had a place for mother’s wheelchair. She ended up sitting in front of my dad and I and I think we all could see the stage well, I know I could. The show started at 7:30 and was over around 10:30. They did a great job as expected and I really enjoyed the performance.

On Saturday, I went to the gym and afterwards stopped by Belk. They were having a charity sale and someone from church gave me a ticket which included a $5 off coupon and even though I wasn’t in a shopping mood, I just couldn’t let that $5 not be used. So, I went and bought a gift for someone. I then made my weekly Publix run and am proud to say that I save $37 in coupons! Oh, yeah!

After the errand running I made a huge batch of coleslaw for the fish fry that was taking place at the church where my parents attend. Then I did some cleaning, cleaned myself up, picked up my mom and made a run by Mr. Donut before we headed to the fish fry. Y’all, Mr. Donut may be closing because from what we understand, they are not making a profit except on Saturdays and Sundays. So, if you love Mr. Donut, be sure and visit them frequently because us Parkers will be crushed if they leave town.

There were quite a few people at the fish fry and Jackie and Troy stopped by as well. It was the first time I had seen them since I got back in town. I was glad they stopped by. The fish was delicious and I wouldn’t mind having some more right now. The hushpuppies were also really good. Now I guess the fishermen will have to go out and restock.

After the fish fry I went by my Aunt Linda’s house and worked on my lesson for Bible Class and then we went to hear the comedian Michael Jr. at Grissom. My cousin Chris, Linda’s son, bought a row of tickets and they invited me to come along. The performance was a benefit for The Way which is a recovery program in town that is Christian based. The show actually had two other comedians perform before Michael, Jr. All three were funny, but Michael, Jr. was the funniest I think. It was refreshing to see a comedian that didn’t use swear words. Clean comedy is a rarity these days and it was really great to see this show. I did a lot of laughing and so did everyone else.

Sunday I went to church and then stopped by Star Market to pick up some Brown’s Farm strawberries. If you love strawberries, you must try the ones from Brown’s Farm! They are so good! I did some more cleaning, watched some hockey and that’s about it. Like I said, a very busy weekend. It was great to spend time with family and friends and I look forward to doing it again soon!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

There Wasn't Enough Time In My Opinion‏

Tuesday morning I woke up around 6:15 because, well, I'm an early riser - I think I may have said that already. I went ahead and got a shower and got dressed and ate some breakfast and promptly left for my visit with the doctor.

The clinic opened at 8:00, my appointment was at 8:10 and I arrived at the clinic about 7:30 - I wanted to make sure I was the first in line so I wouldn't have to wait all day. I sat outside the door reading (yes, I finally finished a book - book review coming soon Melissa!) and not long after someone else came up with their sick baby. I thought about letting them go first for all of about 30 seconds - but, the baby didn't appear to be on her death bed so my sickness prevailed and I was indeed the first one in line and the first person seen.

As I suspected, I was diagnosed with a sinus infection. I was able to have a prescription filled there for $15, which is more than it would have cost at the pharmacy, but I knew most pharmacies didn't open until 9:00 and I didn't want to be waiting around all day so I got the medicine there and then was out the door and on my way by 8:30. I made a stop by Publix (told you we spent a lot of time there) for some Clariton D, toilet tissue, cheese, and a few other items and then was back at the condo by 9:15.

I arrived to discover my dad was not awake but my mother was. I got her something to eat and then got her dressed and ready for the day and she put on her make-up. We thought this was funny because my dad was still snoozing his vacation life away and when he finally did get up we would both be ready to go. Around 10:00 or maybe even later I knocked on his door and asked him if her ever planned to get up. He finally did and was surprised to find that my mom was ready and so was I. I don't know what time we finally left and arrived at Epcot, but it was a lot later than I ever intended for it to be,but my dad got a good night of rest and I guess that was good for him.

My dad rented a wheelchair while we were there because he was having some trouble with his hip (he thinks he may need a replacement) and so instead of one wheelchair, I had to keep up with two which was about more than my legs could handle. My mom and I could hardly keep up. Actually, we didn't keep up, we would have to catch up with him every now and then.

Epcot was having a flower festival and the shrubs and flowers were amazing, many in the shape of Disney characters. We visited a few countries, rode a few rides, watched a few films and had a good time. It got really hot around 4:30 or so and we left to go eat dinner at the Melting Pot, which was okay, but not a good decision because after being there two hours we still weren't done with dinner and got the rest to go so we could make it back to Epcot.

We arrived back at 7:30 and the park closed at 9:00 so needless to say, there wasn't much time to do anything wonderful. We watched the fireworks show at 9:00 and then called it a night and went back to the condo. I really wish we had been able to spend more time at Epcot. I would have preferred to have gotten there a lot earlier and not left for dinner, but those are the breaks when you are traveling with other people I guess.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My First Visit To Hogsmeade

On Monday, I planned for an early start to the day because it was going to be my first visit to Hogsmeade, otherwise known as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. The park opened at 8:00 and I think we arrived there about 8:30 - I'm pretty sure we didn't leave on time for anything except maybe church and on the day we left. My mom stayed at the condo on this day because she had no desire to go to Universal and also we had promised her she could have some days to rest rather than get out and be on the go with us each day.

I had bought our tickets in advance so there was no waiting in line to buy tickets, which was nice. Once inside the park, we heading directly to Hogsmeade and I rode the Dragon Challenge roller coaster a couple of times. There were a TON of people there and if you know anything about me at all, you probably know that I hate large crowds of people. Makes me a little crazy. We stood in line for a couple of butterbeers, which were amazingly delicious and I am now on a quest to maser the recipe since it is not available in bottled form and to my knowledge the only place it is served is at Hogsmeade. We got the frozen kind and we both enjoyed it.

The problem with Monday was that I didn't really go with a plan. That was my first problem because I had no idea where to go, what I wanted to do or see. The second problem was that I was crabby from not feeling well among other things. My dad had taken my mom's wheelchair that morning and while I didn't think it would bother me, it actually did and I ended up pitching a fit about that as well. Yes, I am 35 years old and still know how to pitch a fit. Lovely, isn't it. Basically, I wanted someone to ride rides with and all my dad wanted to do was find a show to watch. We clearly got our wires crossed when planning ventures to Universal. In hindsight, it probably would have been best if I had done Universal and my dad had done something else because he didn't enjoy Islands of Adventure all that much.

We finally decided on a plan which was splitting up. I took some cash out of my wallet and sent my purse and camera with my dad so I wouldn't have to lock it away in a locker. I rode roller coasters all afternoon and my dad went to this show or that. We had plans to meet up at the entrance at 3:00. About 2:30, I headed that way because I didn't want to be late. He was early as well and we actually then decided to check out one of the water rides. I told him I didn't feel like coming back that evening and we should go ahead and ride the water rides. In addition to my sinus issues, I also was having stomach issues on this particular day. I walked and he rode over to the ride but there was a long wait so we left to go pick up my mom for dinner.

Dinner was at Carrabba's and afterwards, we dropped mother back off at the condo and ended up going back to Universal. The evening was much better than the morning. I rode a bunch of rides, including the amazing Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. My mouth was agape the whole ride. It was incredible - like being in the movie! My dad also rode that one once but the motion made him sick so that was it for him. I bought a Quidditch jersey and my dad bought me a shirt that said "Muggle". When 9:00 rolled around, we headed towards the entrance but not without stopping for another butterbeer first. My dad didn't want one but I did. The folks working at the park were closing the line because the girl pumping the butterbeers was having problems with her machine, but my dad managed to sweet talk them into letting us be the last two in line. Other people wanted in line too but no one else was allowed in. A woman asked my dad if he would buy one for her and gave him the money to do just that. Then a boy came up to me and asked me the same thing and handed me a $5 bill. I told him that I was keeping his change of 75 cents as a tip. There was no frozen when I got up to the front of the line, so the boy got $1 back and I got a 75 cent tip and then they closed down the stand.

We headed towards the exits, made amends for any hurt feelings from before and finally made it to the car. It's a long walk from the park to the car, which I was warned about by Tony, a season pass holder (I might be a little envious of that!). Monday was in the books and I was ready for a night of rest and a visit to the doctor!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sea World Take Two and Some Nap Time As Well

After getting in late Saturday night, I woke early on Sunday morning. What can I say, I’m an early riser, even on vacation. I took a shower and got dressed and went downstairs for some breakfast which I think was probably just some pineapple. I was feeling better than I did on Saturday, but still not great and had made the decision to go to the clinic to see a doctor after church.

My dad and I went to church at what is known as Maingate Church of Christ. Maingate meets in the Baymont Inn and Suites in Kissimmee, FL, about two miles or so from Disney. The owners of the hotel are members of the church and the work at Maingate is sponsored by the Concord St. Church of Christ in downtown Orlando. Each week Maingate has a guest speaker – a minister on vacation. In return for preaching and conducting a Bible class, the minister receives a free week of lodging at the Baymont Inn. (Check it out, Kimberly and Gary!) My dad had contacted them back in January about preaching on this Sunday, but they already had someone scheduled. The speaker for that Sunday did a good job during the worship service and in the class. I would have taken some notes, but believe it or not I did not go to Orlando with one writing utensil. Weird, I know!

After church, I dropped my dad off at the condo and drove back to the clinic. There was no wait for non-emergencies and the next appointment was at 4:20, so I took that and went back to the condo. I napped, ate some lunch and watched The Masters.

When 4:00 rolled around, my dad and I loaded up and headed back towards the clinic (Sunday was one f the days my mom stayed in and rested in case you were wondering what she was doing). I checked in and my dad went next door to Applebees to watch more of The Masters. A few minutes after checking in, they asked for my payment and I asked if they were on schedule – they were not. In fact, they were an hour behind. So, I made an appointment for 8:10 on Tuesday morning and left.

I collected my dad from Applebees (saving him from ordering a mediocre appetizer) and we went on over to Sea World where we stayed until they closed. We visited some aquariums, watched more shows and I rode their roller coaster, The Manta, four times. After the third time, my dad decided he would give it a go. He loved roller coasters when I was a kid. Sadly, he did not enjoy the Manta and said there would be no more roller coaster riding for him.

After the roller coaster, we visited an area that had polar bears and walruses and the like. At one point, you were walking under the aquariums and could see the animals swimming beside you. A large Walrus came and stuck his face right in front of the glass where my dad was and they stared at each other for a good five minutes or longer. It was pretty interesting. We closed out the night with a final Shamu show and then headed back to the condo and called it a day.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sickness - It Follows Me Everywhere

On Saturday morning, I woke up early with a really sore throat and a lot of congestion, yes, people, the sickness had set in despite my late night run to Wal-Mart to buy preventative drugs. I used the Neti Pot and tried not to talk, that's how bad my throat ached. I do not understand how sinus drainage can make a throat hurt so badly, but it does, and it is not pleasant.

My dad cooked a breakfast of bacon and biscuits and made mother an omelet and then we finally hit the road and made it all of about half a mile down the street to Publix where I bought some more medicine, some sunglasses (mine had broken) and some Puffs Plus. We stopped because my dad needed batteries which he bought. Then after I got back to the van, mother wanted some word search books so I went back in to get those and we then headed out on our first vacation venture to Sea World. I can't even remember what time it was when we left the Publix parking lot or what time it was when we arrived at Sea World. All I know is I drove and I felt like poo.

We stayed at Sea World for a few hours, I really don't know the exact number, and watched some of the shows. My dad had us goign from one show to the next.My favorite show on this particular day was the otter and sea lion show primarily because none of the three sea lions they used to play one of the characters in the show would cooperate and that made the show quite funny in my opinion.

We left some time that afternoon (I feel like Saturday was a blur because that's how rotten I felt) and went to get some dinner at Joe's Crab Shack. None of us had ever eaten at a Joe's before so we decided we would give it a try. The crab legs weren't too bad and I ordered us an appetizer that had a really good crab dip. After we ate, we took mother back to the condo, but not without stopping by Publix again - yes, we spent a good portion of our vacation at Publix. Publix was closed on Easter Sunday so we had to get some sandwich meat that afternoon because we had decided to eat sandwiches on Sunday. We picked up some meat and some other things and then went to the condo where we got mother settled in for the night, my dad and I changed clothes and then he and I headed west to Tampa for the NCAA hockey championship game - Boston College vs. Ferris State.

There was lots of entertainment outside of the arena and we took some of it in before going in to our seats. The game was really good until the last few minutes of the third period when BC piled on two more goals, one of which was an empty netter. After the game was over and we watched the celebration for a few minutes, we headed back to the condo. It seems like we got back a little bit before 11:00. We called it a night and hit the bed in preparation for the next day.

Entrance to Sea World

Dolphins at Sea World

Flamingos at Sea World

Posing with the National Championship Trophy

The Tampa Bay Times Forum

Getting Ready for the Face-Off

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Departure for Vacation

I have returned from vacation and in case you didn’t figure it out, there was no internet at the condo where we stayed for the week. They had it at the club house at the complex, but there was no time to go up there and write because we were pretty busy all hours of the day, or so it seemed. So, I will do my best to recap our trip over the course of the next few days.

I left Huntsville on Friday, April 6 at 4:05 p.m. My flight left a little late, not shocking since it was a Delta flight and Delta loves to be tardy! I was supposed to have a 45 minute layover in Atlanta but by the time we landed, it was more like 20 minutes and I had to go to another terminal. I rushed like crazy to get there, but when I arrived at my gate, the plane was late by about 30 minutes – should have known.

I was supposed to arrive in Orlando at 8:30 but the plane didn’t land until around 9:00 and I managed to hook up with my parents around 9:15. My dad had taken the bulk of my luggage with him so I had no checked bags. We headed out of the airport and towards the condo but stopped at a Wendy’s on the way so I could have some semblance of a dinner before I called it a night.

The condo was really nice. There was a bedroom and bathroom downstairs along with a den/eating area and a kitchen. Upstairs were two bedrooms and two full bathrooms, one with a deck outside and also there was a laundry room which came in quite handy as we did some laundry pretty much every day we were there.

I was not feeling too well by the time I arrived. My sinuses were acting up again and I had a feeling it was only going to get worse so after we arrived at the condo, I took the van out to Wal-Mart to get a Neti Pot (I needed a new one anyway) and some medicine to hopefully stave off the oncoming illness. By the time I arrived at Wal-Mart, it was after 10:00 and the place was crowded with what seemed like thousands of people. There were probably 20 checkout lanes open and each lane had four to five people in it. It was like Black Friday – completely insane – but I managed to get out of there rather quickly. I headed back to the condo and called it a night so I could get some rest in preparation for the vacation to begin.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Quick Hello

It’s Thursday night and I’ve been doing some last minute cleaning, sheet changing and straightening of my home. I’ve bought tickets for me and my mom and dad to Sea World, Universal Studios and Epcot and I’ve checked in for my flight tomorrow and printed my boarding passes. Now, all I need is for 4:00 on Friday afternoon to arrive and I will be on my way to a week of vacation and I’m looking forward to it! I haven’t had a day off from work since January 2 and that’s a long time for me – I’m overdue for some fun!

I hope to keep you all updated via the blog, but I’m not sure what the internet service will be like. We do not have it at the house we are renting but we think they will have it at the club house in the neighborhood. At any rate, I may or may not be updating but I will try to write everyday nonetheless so I can update you when I get back if I can’t while I’m there. Hopefully that sentence made sense.

I will now bid you adieu so I can spend some time with my precious pumpkin poo, also known as The Tide. She’s sure to be upset with me one week from now.

I’ll update as soon as I can, but until then have a great day!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Newest Obsession

I told Jackie earlier that I would probably write about this today and so I am. I have mentioned on here a few times about the TV show “Who Do You Think You Are?” which has sparked an interest in researching my family tree. I started it last year but didn’t really work much on it; but recently I logged back into my account and paid for a six-month membership to do some research on who I am and who are the people that are responsible for my being here.

Let me tell you, it is easy to get lost in the research of discovering who you are. Tuesday night for example I logged on and started doing research and the next thing I knew it was two hours later. I have found marriage certificates, census records, and names of people I never knew existed, and names of people I knew existed but didn’t know what their names were, if that makes any sense.

I also came across the family trees of other people related to my Parker family who had some photos of my great-great grandfather’s marriage license and also a photo that was titles, “Unknown Parkers” and the man on the left looks exactly like my grandfather. I cannot wait to show him the picture and see if it’s him or maybe his own father or grandfather. I showed it to Jackie earlier today and she also thinks the man looks like Justin. Whoever he is, I have no doubt he is one of my Parker relatives.

The Unknown Parkers -will they be unknown for much longer?

I plan to keep on trudging through the records and finding out as much as I can about my ancestors. It has been a fascinating journey so far and I have no doubt it will continue to be. If you have any interest in your family history, then give a try. You may become hooked like I did! Happy searching!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

We Arrive In Shifts

Well, you would think as busy as I’ve been lately that I would have something really interesting to write about every day, but I don’t. It’s sad but true.

Sunday I spent the day packing, churching, cleaning, watching cycling, and then in the evening I had a PW watching marathon with Erika. We watched five episodes! She brought over a yummy taco bake, the leftovers of which I plan to enjoy for dinner tonight.

Last night I mowed the lawn and then made a run by Wal-Mart to see if I could find some shorts to fit my large derrière. I ordered some shorts and they arrived yesterday but were tighter than I would have preferred them to be so I went by Wal-Mart and found some that will do for my upcoming trip. Hopefully I won’t look like an old fat person, but I probably will – awesome!

After the trip to Wal-Mart, I went by my parents’ house to drop off my luggage for our trip. My dad left this morning in the handicapped van. He is driving possibly to Gainesville tonight. He wants to watch the bats fly out of a cave at the University of Florida. Sounds interesting. Then he will drive on in to Orlando tomorrow.

My mom flies down to Orlando tomorrow where my dad will pick her up at the airport and then they will make their way to Tampa where they will spend the first couple of days of their trip. The NCAA Frozen Four is in Tampa this year and they will be there for the first round on Thursday.

On Friday, I leave our fair city and fly down to Orlando where I will be picked up by one or both parents. At this point they will have relocated from Tampa to Orlando where we have a house for the week. I arrive at 8:30 p.m. and will begin my vacation on Saturday at the NCAA Championship Hockey Game! I’m not sure what we will do before the game if anything.

The rest of the week will be spent visiting Universal (HARRY POTTER!!) and Epcot – not sure if we are going to Magic Kingdom or not. We will just play it all by ear I suppose. I’m also not sure how much posting will get done while we are away. There is no internet at our house, but at the club house in the neighborhood or whatever. So, I will try to post often, but am making no promises. Mostly, I’m just looking forward to having a good time and being away from work for a few days.

The rest of this week will be spent doing laundry and packing some last minute items and getting a manicure and pedicure because everyone should have nice looking nails before going on vacation! My friend Courtney will be staying with The Tide again this year; so, hopefully they will get along fine and The Tide will be well taken care of… now if only the grass would stop growing for a week or so. Hmmm…

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Birthday Celebration!

Last Friday was my dad’s 60th birthday! I remember when he turned 30 and now he’s 60! He and I went to lunch on Friday at our usual spot –Surin of Thailand. I gave him a copy of The Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook as his gift. He likes PW about as much as I do.

On Saturday my mom arranged a party for my dad. A large group of people gathered at Top of the River in Guntersville. I had never been there before – the food was pretty good. I would have to say the fried pickles were the best. I’m a lover of fried pickles. Anyway, there were about 30 people there I suppose including my grandparents, my dad’s siblings and a couple of my cousins as well as some friends new and old.

One set of friends, Johnnie and Nancy, I had not seen in a good long while, at least five years I’m thinking. They used to live in Huntsville and then moved to Tennessee which is why we don’t see them as often as we once did. Some folks from the church my parents attend were there as well and also our good friends Naaman and Cheryl.

My dad had a good time I think and so did everyone else. My cousin Brittany and I took some photos, but my camera is packed up and on the way to Orlando and I didn’t download the photos before sending my camera down south ahead of me. Maybe I’ll remember to share them with you some time soon.

After we ate dinner, most everyone headed over to my parents’ house for cake and ice cream. It was a lovely evening with friends and family. I left about 7:00 so I could get back home and finish up some chores and study for the class I was teaching at church the next morning.

I’m glad my mom arranged for us all to be together. Here’s to many more birthdays for both my parents!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

It was another busy weekend for me starting with a viewing of The Hunger Games on Friday night with Jackie. As you may recall, I read the books back a few months ago upon Jackie’s recommendation and they were some of the best books I have read in a long while; so, I was anxious to see the movie to see how it compared to the book.

We met up for an early dinner at I Love Sushi. Jackie hasn’t been feeling well lately so she just had soup and edamame while I had a salad and some yummy sushi. We headed over to the movie theater and got our tickets and our seats and settled in for the show.

I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised with the movie. It followed the book quite closely which made me very happy. There were some minor details that were left out but they were not essential to the story line and therefore were not that missed. I felt that the scenery was very similar to how it was described in the book and the movie was also well cast. The only problem I had with the casting was the guy who plays Peta. He did a good job in the movie, but he was nothing like the Peta I had pictured in my mind when I read the book.

Jackie commented that it was a lot more gruesome on screen than when reading and she was right. Watching children kill each other is a bit much on the big screen. Although we both knew what was going to happen, we both found ourselves nervous and anxiously anticipating what would happen next. I found my heart racing on more than one occasion. There was a lot of foreshadowing in the movie, setting the plot for the next two movies. It didn’t take away from the film and was probably necessary because of the amount of material that needs to be covered in the follow up films.

If you liked the books, I think you will also like the movie and if you haven’t read the books then you will probably also like it. I thought it was really well done and in fact wouldn’t mind seeing it again.