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This weekend I have four days off, which is very unusual for me. While I am enjoying four days of not working and am headed to the coast to spend time with my family, I know Memorial Day is more than days off, picnics and potato salad. We remember those who serve, have served in the past and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We continue to stand tall for, and honor, those who protect us.

As you enjoy whatever it is you will do this weekend, please take time to remember those who have answered our country’s call.

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I know everyone is on the edge of their seat for more pictures and vacation updates.  I broke my card reader.  Those stinking little pins for the CF cards.  I’ll get a new one soon and resume updates, hopefully over the weekend.

I sort of count Friday, but not really because it was just a bunch of freaking driving after getting off work late and running late and getting a slow start.  We arrived at our first destination at approximately 2 a.m.  SO, I count day 1 as the first full day away from ye olde homestead.

Well, the time finally arrived and we headed south for our trip to Diznee Werld.  We drove since it’s only about 560 miles.  Normally my threshold for driving is 5 hours – anything longer than that and I opt to fly, but we drove.  For lots of reasons.  When we decided to defect for Thanksgiving, I emailed a bloggy buddy, Loquita, in hopes of being able to meet her and her husband.  As luck would have it, we were able to.  I was super giddy because the stars finally aligned after a couple of failed attempts in the past.  To describe her in one word is hard, but I’ll use awesome.  Give me two words and I’ll say totally awesome.  LT (a.k.a. her husband, Husbeetle, his given name and the nickname of his given name) is so nice.  I wasn’t quite sure he would speak, but by the end of breakfast at a very tasty little place, he had laughed a handful of times and used words.  Now, I joke about that because I think we both had a concern that Will and LT would be a pair of mutes, but they surprised us and made small talk among themselves.  We talked, laughed, and chatted it up.  For those who have followed her blog, she is just like you imagine her, but only better.  Thanks for taking a couple hours out of your day to meet us.  I wish we would have more time and hopefully we’ll be able to do it again.

If she gives me permission, I’ll share our picture, but, until then, I present to you birds.  We found an open gate to a dock and I went down and took some pictures.  I totally got busted by a park ranger, but this is what sea birds along the coast of SC/GA look like….

 

 After good-byes we were off…..

We are timeshare peeps so, for all but one day, we stayed off Diznee property.  Our timeshare company has a property that is considered one of the W*D*W* resort properties, but it has been booked up for eons, so we traded at another property managed by them for “free,” Star Island Resort.  We had a full-size kitchen, washer and dryer and Fabul-O slept on the pull-out couch.  Worked wonderfully. 

 

 

By the time we got settled, had dinner and wanted to head to Downtown Diznee, it was kind of late and we were all pushing our limits and the littlest one of us wanted no part of any of it.  We came back and Fabul-O crashed almost immediately and we were about two steps behind her.

Hallelujah.  And it’s good to be here, I might add.  Fabul-O was totally sacked out in less than 30 minutes.  I have my Sleep Number set on 35 and am propped up and surrounded by the fluffiest of pillows to cradle me to slumber.
Good night, y’all.

That’s the number of miles left until we get home.

And here’s why…

Dude(ette)s…we are whooped.  Tired.  Beat.  You name it, we are it.

Having lots of fun.  We toured all the countries in Epcot.  Ya’ll know that takes a long, time right? Or maybe it went longer because we had a storybook princess lunch mixed in there along with stops to have Fabul-O’s “passport” stamped and grab a few signatures in her autograph book.

I learned something today:  My feet aren’t as young as the rest of me.

Thunder and lightning storm so it was the PERFECT excuse to call it an early night and order pizza to be delivered.  Didn’t even have energy to go up to the bar and see if there was $1 beer tonight.  But, golly I sho would love some.  Maybe just $5 worth.

Except for getting ready to write this next sentence, I haven’t even had the thought creep through my mind…I haven’t even thought about getting the pictures off the memory card.  Hell, ya’ll been around here enough to know that the there’s a better chance of not than actually getting around to it.

Turning in…early day tomorrow.
Peace, ya’ll…..

166 miles down. 202 more until we stop for the night. Welcome, vacation. Oh how I’ve longed for you.

That would be suitcases and car, for those who may be curious.  Felt silly packing on Tuesday night, but when all I had to do was zip up the suitcase and load everything in the car tonight, I was glad I did.  I’m sure I’ll forget something, but that’s what T*rget is for, right?

Olivia wanted a “Diznee Werld cwedit card” (a.k.a. gift card) so I bought her one and loaded it with $10 at the Diznee Store last weekend.  She asked to look at it today so I handed it to her.  When we got home this evening I asked her where it was.  She told me she wasn’t sure; I figured it fell between the seats in the car and I would find it when I packed the car.  Tonight while packing the car, she came up to me and told me she told me a lie and went into a loooong story.  Long story short, she was “swiping” her credit card in the slot on the door of the van that the window shades roll down into and she dropped it.  It’s now inside the van door *sigh*.  She came clean on the lie, which I was proud of her for.  I’m glad I only put $10 on there because I had planned to call and add some more money to it for her.  We had a talk, I sent her in to brush her teeth, put her jammies on and go to bed early. She was really upset and cried hard because I was mad at her.  I felt horrible, but I know it comes with the territory and she knows not to put things around that area, etc. We had another talk, hugged, kissed and snuggled in for the night. I love that kid so much.  I want so badly to always do the right thing, which I know won’t always happen, but I’m glad of a couple of things.  One is that she owned up to what she did and understood it was wrong.  Second is that she understood why she got in some trouble and was able to explain it back to me in her own way, which tells me she truly understands.  Third is that we never ever end our day on a sour note.  She gives great hugs and I’m glad I as many as I want each and every day.

Time to try and get some sleep….

G’night ya’ll….

…Yeah, you know me…

I hate trying to figure out where to stay when I visit a city.  Some places we visit over and over I have my set places. Not a problem.  I try to stay within one particular chain just because I have the best success with walking across the room and not worrying about my socks getting dirty.  Seriously.

For everywhere else, holy cripes…it takes me FOREVER to figure out where to stay.  Like the return trip from Dizney Werld, for example.  We’re stopping in Sa*van*nah on the way home and it’s been YEARS since we were there and I have no clue as to where we stayed.  So, for the past week or three, I’ve been stressing over it.  Where should we stay?  How much do we want to pay?  I know the area we want to stay, so that narrowed down the 139 choices on Tr*vel0city down to just slightly over 100 and when I took out the one and two star places, I still had about 70 choices.  The F0ur P0ints Sherat0n was a kicking special with good location, but the reviews were bad.  Then there was the non-chain hotel that would have been nice and it was priced reasonably and there was no valid reason to NOT choose that one.  Except for the other non-chain hotel that was sooo quaint, but it was a little higher priced, but would have been neat to stay there.  Then there’s the Ec0n0-L0dge that I could have paid $39 for off the interstate, driven to the historic district and not had this anxiety.   Damn self-inflicted anxiety.  It gets the best of me.  Well, since Will went to bed early and Fabul-O has zero interest in talking about it, I had to do something.  I mean, vacation starts soon.  Verrrrry soon.  I used Pric3line dot com.  I’ve never used them before.  Evah.  Talk about anxiety? They didn’t bite at my four-star hotel for $75.  Mixed emotions…I didn’t have to give up control of deciding where to stay, even though every freaking search engine knows my dates and preferences by heart and Firef0x is so tired of searching for me, it just shuts down when it sees me coming.  As I got ready to click to close my screen, I had to give it one more shot.  So, I threw in a 3-1/2 star rating and threw caution to the wind.  Next thing I know, my heart is beating rapidly, I have no color in my face and I’m sweating.  My offer was accepted and my credit card charged.  Imagine a slow-motion run like I’m trying to catch a Faberge egg flying through the air with a long, drawn out “Noooooooo.”  Except it wasn’t out loud… it was a silent struggle because Will is strapped into his flight mask (CPAP) snoring away and Olivia is dosed up on cough med/decongestant and if Pom Pom hears me, she’ll want to go out and I’m not in the mood to wipe muddy paws this late. But the feeling was there.  I did it.  I gave up control and have a room.  I couldn’t even focus my eyes to see where it put us at first….Not bad….we’re staying here. I saved about $45-50 off the lowest discounted rate I could find, so I guess that’s pretty nifty.

Will I use Pric3line again?  I don’t know.  It’s too freaking stressful for me.  Now I’m wondering if I should have put a lower offer in to see if it would have been accepted.  See the imaginary stress?!?!  gah.

Now I have to book a hotel for the stop on the way down.  I know which one I’m choosing, but I always get buyer’s remorse and wonder if I made the right decision and my fellow travel mates aren’t that much help.  They’re the last ones who want to help, but aren’t shy about their displeasure. *sigh*

You’d think I would have done it by now.  Since I need it in, ohhhh, two  days.  Can’t use P.line because there are too many choices that could be oh.so.wrong. for that stop. And I just don’t have the mental capacity for it.  Sad, huh?  But I certainly can’t be the only one who has useless anxiety.

Oy vey…free my mind……………………
Oh, yeah….insomnia is kicking my arse this week. I need this vacation. Desperately.

 

So much to bitch and ramble tell about…where do I begin?

  • Fabul-O has been mega stuffy the past several days so I called the doc’s office. They were slammed today and not able to work her in.  Don’t gasp, she doesn’t have a fever and normally I wouldn’t stress over it, but since we go on vacation, ohhh, in four more sleeps, I wanted to be safe.  Our doc’s office has an attached urgent care and it was suggested that we go there.  She must have heard the hesitation in my voice because she followed up with that it only costs our usual office co-pay to be seen since we are established patients.  I’m holding off on the “score” until I get the bill.  They wouldn’t take our co-pay at the window because we pay a percentage vs. a set amount.  BUT, we were in and out in an hour and that included a flu test, which was negative.
  • Because we made our detour to the doc’s office tonight, it threw off my routine a weensy bit so I flip-flopped what I had planned for the evenings and we are packed for vacation!  There are two small loads of laundry to be completed and socks to match, but if we left tomorrow, we’d be fine.  *woot*
  • While packing, I’ve noticed something very disturbing.  My being a paperweight with my health issues for the past several months has packed on some weight.  Quite a bit, I might add.  My jeans still fit – bless that 2% of spandex, I suppose.  Where has it all settled?  In ye ole ta-tas.  Dadgummit.  If we were headed to Maine or somewhere cold, I’d be perfect ’cause your buttons don’t bulge in a hoodie.  My cute button up blouses?  Ain’t happening.  A recurrence of a migraine has kept me grounded, but…
  • When Mar and crew came to Chateau L, she really does have the same tennis shoes that I loathed.   After talking with her, it was discovered these particular shoes run a tinsy bit small – okay a half to full size.  I reordered them in a half size bigger and they are okay…just need to be broken in, but totally doable.  Had I ordered a full size larger, I’m sure they would be grand, but the right one eats my sock now and I can only imagine if there was more room for my socks to bunch.
  • I need to have my hair did, but I’m on the fence about where to go.  I found a new salon when they sponsored a day of pampering for National Guard wives not too long ago, but my first visit there was e.x.p.e.n.s.i.v.e., even with the “new customer” discount.  The color was fantabulous.  The best I’ve ever had, but I’m not so sure that justifies the money to get it done. Seriously.  I had a follow-up appointment, but chickened out and will reschedule somewhere after Thanksgiving.  My friend JW gets her hair done at a different salon and her hair always looks smoking.  So, roots until I get home.
  • I’m looking forward to this trip on so many levels.  Olivia loves the wonder in everything and I’m really hoping Disney will be no different.  I have our itinerary pretty much laid out and will need to tweak it a little, but our main game plan is done.  There’s a lot we want to do while we’re gone, so a plan was a must!
  • I have my alarm set to wake and see the meteor shower, but I’m betting I say screw it when it actually goes off.

I hope all is well in the lands of you……….

Much needed.

Can’t wait.

Dammit, Friday.  Get here already.

 

We arrived into town late last night after failing to get out of town on time.  I was missing one shoe and my fayncee strapless bra that is a key component of my outfit…it’s the one I’m safety pinning my dress to since I skipped my alterations appointment.

Every trip I’ve ever made has required at least one obligatory trip to Wall Marks or Tahget, but does it count if you do it before you even leave your zip code?  If it doesn’t count, this might be the first time I’ve not had to go.  We hit a couple of stores and I replaced the shoes and the bra and we were on our way.

Pretty boring trip.  The one from where we live to where we were going is about 3 hours or so, but I swear it seems to take three years.  It is the longest drive evah. Other trips of similar lengths are not that bad, but this one is horrible…every time.  Okay, so I say it was boring.  Before we left, I had to take something for nausea and pain, both of which make me sleepy so I slept for a big portion of the trip, but the last 12 miles were brutal.

This morning we went down for breakfast.  I got up, pulled my hair up, brushed my teeth, got dressed and made sure I didn’t look completely like I had just rolled out of bed.  Heck, I would have even ventured out of the hotel in my current state.  I have yet to understand why people can’t/don’t/won’t change out of their pajamas before heading down to breakfast at a hotel.  Including children.  And ladies, put a bra on.  Your middle aged sagging bubbies are not what I want staring at my belly button while I wait for my turn to get juice.

Meeting a friend for lunch.  It started off on the girly side until her husband’s plans got canceled and he’s joining us, so that puts Will in the mix so we’re headed to H00ters for wangs and beer for lunch.  Which I’m good with.  Who doesn’t love good wangs?

Tonight Olivia and I were talking about our upcoming fall trip to Dizney Werld and all the fun and neato things we’re going to do while we’re in Orlando.  So far the only real things I have planned are lunch with some princesses and a visit to See Werld.  We’re scrolling through the pictures on SW’s website and Olivia stops me, looks me dead square in the eye balls and says:

Will they have food?  I might get hungry.  If they don’t, then we’ll need to pack snacks.  What do you think we should buy?  I know we can’t take marshmallows  because they’ll melt….

No matter where we go or what we do, the girl has a gameplan for getting her grub on.

So, we’re doing something a bit unconventional this year for Thanksgiving.  We’re trading our usual turkey for mouse.  The residents of Chateau L are packing up and heading to Florida and we’re pretty dang excited about it.  If you’ll remember, last year’s Plan B vacation ended up in D0llywood since Fabul-O freaked out at Ripley’s Aquarium and I proclaimed D*sney was too hot, too far and too expensive to get down there and she hate it.

We started looking at the stars, they aligned (sort of) and the logistics were pieced together without much effort.  Fabul-O is excited and the date is penciled in on my calendar when I can call and have my annual salary sucked off my credit card to make a reservation to have dinner with a princess.

Just to fill space so I don’t have a big gap from one highlighted date on my sidebar calendar to the next.

  • Garden planted.  Will said he moved it this year, but I haven’t been in the back yard to see where yet. Olivia said he did, too, so it must be true.
  • Fever at Chateau L AGAIN. Man, I’m sick of this.  I can’t imagine how parents who have kids that pass it back and forth for weeks on end do it.  Olivia had a 104.4 and woke up with it about 2 a.m. Saturday morning.  She crashed about 7 p.m. without issue.  It goes up and down, but it’s highest has been  again is 101.5.  It was down this a.m. and we’re keeping a close eye out.
  • I thought she would feel bad, but once fever came down and was under control for a while Saturday, we went to my goddaughter’s birthday party.  Who let her turn 6?!?  The kids rode horses.  Was fun.  Pics to follow.  After I find my card reader.  Dang CF card won’t fit into the built in reader on my laptop.
  • A transmission service is expensive when you couple it with an oil change for a car that ONLY uses synthetic oil.  When your husband tells you, “it shouldn’t be too bad” ignore it and prepare for the worst.  I did pick up some air miles for it though.  And I know it’s cheaper than a new transmission.
  • I haven’t cooked in almost 2 weeks.  Seriously.  If you count cereal and sandwiches I have, but if you’re looking for warm and well-balanced… nope.
  • We might be getting more gravel for the drive way.  Depends on how much  “it shouldn’t be too bad” comes up to be.
  • Prom is next weekend.  I’m wearing red.  Not the little black dress that may or may not zip up.  I’m saving that for a date with my friend J in June.  We’re going to Phantom of the Opera.  Love.It.  The last time we saw it together was in NYC a few years ago.  The time before that was Ken Hill’s Phantom of the Opera while we were in college.  We took our mom’s to dinner, the show and then to a little nightspot we used to frequent.
  • One of my best friends is having a heart valve replacement Friday.  She’s a couple of years younger than I.  Pray for her, will you?  Or good wishes, happy thoughts, whatever you have to offer.  I was going to try and go down to be with her family, but my dad is having surgery Thursday and I can’t take O with me and my mom can’t watch her Thurs night.  So, I won’t be able to.  I know she’s going to be fine, but it’s a big deal and I love her to pieces.  I’ll make it down to see her soon.
  • Vacation is in one month.  I’m taking a couple of them this year.  Yes.I.Am.  Don’t worry, the family will be going with me.  (Hi, Mar!)
  • I’m hoping to hit up the frozen tundra after it thaws. MixedUpMama seems to think August should be fine 🙂  She has a gas powered margarita maker.  Yes. She. Does.
  • I finally grew up and got contacts.  I have 20/15 vision, but my stinking astigmatism keeps me from seeing clearly now that the rain is gone and I can’t see all the obstacles in my way.  Heh.  It was a little disheartening to hear I’ll lose my reading vision in the next couple of years.   By the way, contacts for football shaped corneas are expensive.
  • I hate that jeans have spandex in them.  Especially today since I forgot my belt.  Besides the fact they’ll be at my ankles by the end of the day, it gives a really crappy false sense of having lost weight throughout the day. Oh, and it’s only 2% spandex at that.
Yes, it’s been over a month since we came home.  Where does time go?!  Day one was spent at the petting zoo
Day two, Thursday, we headed into Gatlinburg to tool around.  It was uber crowded and very overcast, so we did what all good tourists do, we went to the Hard R0ck Cafe and bought our t-shirts.

 We then walked around downtown Gatlinburg for a little bit stopping in some of the shops.  Olivia and Will enjoyed a little daddy-daughter stroll through downtown.

Shopping with Daddy

Shopping with Daddy

I learned something this trip that I haven’t paid attention to in the twelve years Will and I have been together.  His dad doesn’t smile either unless you make him.

Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son

Throw a super cute grandchild in the mix and he smiles.  Go figure.

Papa, Daddy and Olivia

Papa, Daddy and Olivia

Friday rolls around and it’s time to go to Dollywood, baby…

We’re Here!!

Boobs or bust.  Dollywood, here we are!  It was the main point of interest for our family vacation.  We arrived early to beat the crowds and the heat.  We didn’t see any of the shows because Fabul-O wasn’t into them and you all know this vacation was all.about.her.  Will and I rode a roller coaster, which is something we probably haven’t done in six plus years.  I remembered why when we got off.  So did he. 

One of the things I was surpised to find was Fauxbo.  He’s the knock off Dumbo ride from Disney world.  Despite her ticked off appearance in the first picture, Olivia loved Fauxbo.  You’ll notice the green fence at the bottom of the picture.  The rest of the ones Will took of Olivia and me on Fauxbo have that green fence going through them so you won’t see any more.   

Mommy and Olivia on Fauxbo

Mommy and Olivia on Fauxbo

  

Olivia and Daddy on Fauxbo

Olivia and Daddy on Fauxbo

 Oooh, look.  Teacups!

Dollywood's version of the teacup ride from Disney.  Grandma and Olivia had a great time!

Dollywood's version of the teacups. Grandma and Olviia loved it.

Next it was off to the Busy Bees ride all the kids in line at Fauxbo and the cups were talking about.  The bees were all the rage.

Busy bees were all the buzz in lines for the other rides.

Busy bees were all the buzz in lines for the other rides.

 After seeing the sign, I realized why….

A Mild Thrill Attraction.  Yup.  All the toddlers and preschoolers were raging about it.

A Mild Thrill Attraction. Yup. All the toddlers and preschoolers were raging about it.

The carousel is always a favorite ride.  Except for Papa.  He chose not to have fun.

 

Saturday our friends Danny and Wendy drove up with their two kids and we went to the Chimneys in Gatlinburg and climbed on the rocks and played in the water.  The water was COLD, but the kidlets loved it.  Will was attached to Danny’s unit in 2005 and they served in Iraq together.  Wendy and I met online before realizing our husbands were serving together and instantly became friends.  We had a great time with them and it’s always too much time in between our visits.

 

Emily and Olivia

Emily and Olivia

Sunday afternoon, we visited the Apple Barn cider mill.  We were disappointed to find out they didn’t allow apple picking and because it was Sunday, we weren’t able to see them make cider.

Thrilled to have another picture made

Thrilled to have another picture made

 

The picture I got after bribing with a dollar.

The picture I got after bribing with a dollar.

Sunday afternoon, Will and I visited the Mountain Valley Winery for a nickel tour and tasting.  Yummo is about all I can come up with.  We came home with 6 bottles and, I must say, they work some pretty awesome magic with the grape. 

Monday was the drive home after breakfast with Grandma and Papa.  We had a great time, but we were certainly glad to get home.  For the first time in I don’t know how long, I got car sick!  But we made it home safe and sound.

Rain was in the forecast for our first full day in Pigeon Forge, so we chose to hold off on the excitement of Dollywood for Friday (closed on Thursday).

Petting and feed ’em zoos are always a good time and typically don’t take that much time. We loaded up the car and set Roxy (my aforementioned GPS) to Happy Hollow Lane and went to Deer Farm Zoo. Not too much detail. You buy cups of delightful food for said animals and work your way around.

We were greeted by this young fella…

Peek a boo!  I see you!

"Peek a boo! I see you!"

Babies need food, too.  You big ones wait!

Babies need food, too. You big ones wait!

Yuck.  I need a wipe.

Yuck. I need a wipe.

If you hang around the goats long enough, you realize they are hip to being green…they “recycle” – quickly. No pictures of that, though. Sorry.

The face only a mother could love.

The face only a mother could love. Or those of us with cups full of feed.

No trim job for bad summer shedding.  Will lurved feeding the camels.  Took him back to days of seeing camels roam the sands of Iraq.

No trim job for bad summer shedding. (The camel, silly! Will had his hair cut before we left!) Will lurved feeding the camels. Took him back to days of seeing camels roam the sands of Iraq.

Hey, kid.  C'mere.  I know Santa. Yeah, that's right.  The big man in red.  You bring me an apple I'll make sure he's good to you.  I also learned Reindeer live in Sevierville, TN in the off season.

"Hey, kid. C'mere. I know Santa. Yeah, the big man in red. You bring me an apple I'll make sure you get hooked up." Obviously reindeer enjoy the Great Smokey Mountains in the off season.

Open wide.  And you better not let me down.

"Open wide. And you better not let me down. Here's my list..."

1/3 of the way through and we had already used two cups of food.  "Daddy, we need more!"  And we bought more.

1/3 of the way through and they had already used two cups of food. Yes, they. I was the photog. That and I don't dig animal slobber. Blech. "Daddy, we need more!" And we bought more. $10 worth for the day.

He hissed at us.  I know!  I didn't know peacocks hissed!

He hissed at us. I know! I didn't know peacocks hissed.

Grandma and Olivia discussing all the things we saw.

"I had fun, grandma." "Me, too, Olivia. Me too."

Well, our time in TN has come to an end. It was a nice trip. I learned something very valuable about vacationing during the week. Do it, especially if the weekend at the end of your trip is attached to a Monday holiday. Oh, my…who knew traffic would be so bad? I suppose if I had thought about it, I would.

When we made the executive decision to pull the plug on Disney, we had to decide where to go because once Will’s vacation is set on the calendar at work, there ain’t no changing it. After long thoughts, we had a family meeting and I told him that we should head to the mountains and see if his parents wanted to join us. Yes, folks, I vacationed with the in-laws. They love the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area and, while it was quite a drive for them, they pulled through and were snoring away by the time we arrived at the condo.

I originally found a kicking cabin in Gatlinburg, but Will’s parents said we would probably be better off staying in Pigeon Forge. As I have mentioned before, we are timeshare people and with the proper planning, I would have been able to use our time to stay there. However, since this is a Plan B vacation, things were a bit different. A website I turn to often is Vacation Rentals By Owner. There is only one time I have found a place to stay and not been totally pleased and that was on the Tiara Girls trip last fall. Anyway, this time we chose a condo vs. a cabin, mainly because it had a pool and we were able to know exactly where it was so it made it easy on everyone involved and, if all else failed, Olivia loves to go “fwimming.”
Day one recap on the way….

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