Friday, May 20, 2011

Here I sit in a beautiful resort in Orlando. My feet couldn't make it another day after walking for four days all around Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. John took the kids to Blizzard Beach this morning to go down some steep water slides and cool off from this humid Florida heat. What a wonderful time we are having!

We enjoyed visiting the birth place and childhood home of Hellen Keller in AL and getting our picture taken next to the famous well where she learned that everything has a name. Her first word in sign language: 'water'. We enjoyed seeing the dining room table where she had her temper tantrums before she learned to communicate, and the school room where Annie Sullivan dedicated her life to teaching her.

We stopped in Andersonville, GA, and toured the Confederate Prisoner of War Camp used during the Civil War. It was hard to imagine the suffering that was experienced there....for months, thousands of Union soldiers went without clean water, shelter, and even food. It was an unforgettable experience. We all came away from that place with a deep gratitude for what our service men, both past and present, have sacrificed for the sake of our country.

St. Augustine was beautiful. We got there too late to tour the castle but got some great photos walking around the outside. We signed up for a night tour, but soon learned that it was a haunted tour. Our tour guide started taking us around the city looking for orbs, spirits and ghosts. She told us of a little girl who was murdered 4oo years ago who can still be seen around town today, waving to welcome visitors. Hope's eyes got so big, and she immediately started looking for that little girl. My husband embarrassed us all by pointing towards a little girl in the distance and saying, "There she is!" Our tour guide didn't think he was very funny, I don't think. She told us that at night the cemetery comes alive with the spirit of one of the city's first leaders. He comes in the form of a green orb. Take a photo with flash, and see if you can see him, she said. If you can't see it now, wait until you download it onto your computer and you will see it. John leaned over to me and the kids and said, "Let's make like ghosts and disappear--what do you say?" So while our tour guide wasn't looking, we did! .....Awwwkkkwaaard. The kids found this so funny, and we later joked that we should go back through town on our way back and reappear, at the same point of the tour (the cemetery), wearing the same clothes as the night we all disappeared. That would sure be a ghost story to talk about for sure!

Disneyworld is truly the most amazing place I have ever seen. It is mind boggling to think of all the creativity, ingenuity, brains, organization, engineering......and of course money.....that makes this place work. Of course the rides and attractions are fabulous, but what interests me is how efficient everything is, and how clean. We did a little experiment with the kids. We sat on a shaded bench in the busiest and hottest part of the day, and did nothing but watch people walk by. See who are the happiest people here, John said. Lo and behold it was not the children with cotton candy and balloons, but the ones who were serving others. We watched a smiling janitor greeting everyone across his path. We watched a group of handicapped people with their caretakers. They were sure having a good time. At the same time we saw several families arguing, and children complaining....little kids throwing temper tantrums. It did not exactly seem like we were in happiest place on earth at times, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I have no pictures to share (yet), and I didn't intend to blog until I got back, but I spent two hours down at the pool, and came back to read in a quiet room only to find out my books are in the van, parked at Blizzard Beach. A mother of seven can only stand so much peace, quiet, and isolation, you know. So while I am waiting for four more hours for my family to get back, I thought I would post a little vacation update.

Meanwhile, it seems the kids back home are doing great with Opa and Oma (also thanks to a little help from Emma and Teri). My only regret is missing out on Ava's graduation from the Little Light House last night. On the other hand, space was limited, so I'm glad my parents got to experience it in our place. And thankfully we have Youtube and digital photos and Skype, so in a way we experienced it too.

I loved my dad's facebook post from last night: "Not a dry eye in the crowd, 19 graduates, some blind, some severely handicapped, all achievers, I love myself when I find myself in the company of stragglers, overcomers and fighters. Here is my granddaughter, a night of GREAT achievement."

Enjoy this video of nineteen great kindergartners marching to Pomp and Circumstance. And try not to cry like I did when Ava waves to her grandparents. (She comes in at the end). Love my sweet girl.


tim said...

Ah, it was a great night. Better than watching the Spurs, or seeing some Baseball Game paying big money. I loved the family feeling, everyone clapping for each other's special child.

ErinL said...

OK I absolutely started cracking up at the haunted tour and John's comment! Loved seeing Ava and I'm so glad you are having such a great time!

Kate said...

Thanks for sharing the video. I've never seen it from that vantage point. Love seeing the kids' faces! So proud of your girl!

Enjoy the rest of your trip!

absees123s said...

What an amazing video! TY so much for sharing!

little dalene said...

Was that Uncle Tim's bald head in the photo? I loved how her face lit up and she waved. It was so precious!

Anonymous said...

Glad you are having a good time. Sorry the tour was a bust. win some. lose some. but you made the best of it.


Janet Caswell said...

Oh, I did cry! So lovely to see everyone marching in. Reminds me very much of Aziza's school! Congrats Ava ... I know how hard you have worked :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a great vacation, but sorry about the blisters and the haunted tour bummer...but John sure has a sense of humor! Ava's graduation was priceless. Sure glad your dad got some good photos. He was right there at every turn, so got some good still shots as well. The one of Ava and Oma is adoreable. So glad I was able to experience this, as it will always be special to me.
Aunt Sharon