Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Day 4 vacation 2007 Pigeon Forge TN

Day four we got up early and it was our goal to be at Dollywood's Splash County. We got there about 10:15 and it was already packed. you can tell that it is peak season because everyone was out.

We were smart today and simply brought towels. It is amazing at this place, there are towels on chairs everywhere and no one using either. Our towels and bag were on the chair that we had for almost 5 hours and we never sat there.

We had a great time. We started with the lazy rive and then we went over the "rules" with Grace and so I let her run and bit more freely at the splash pad. I stood by the exit of the splash pad and she just had a great time getting as wet as she possibly could. Don kept Mac, went down the slides with him, showed him how to use the water cannons... everything there was to do they did. At one point Grace got hit in the mouth with the cannon but after a ittle blood and a few tears she was back to playing. From there we went back to the family sled ride from the night before. We did have to wait in line a bit but it was not a horrible line. I think that we only waited 10 minutes. We should have done this ride a few more times but we had heard that there was a new part of the park and so we decided to go find it.

Once we got to "The Cascades" Grace was just in heaven. Here there is a big "wooded" bucket that fills up and about every 2 minutes or so dumps water all over the fortress of walkways, 8 slides, and tons of water cannons. Anything that can dump water on people you will find here. The problem with this splash area is that it is even harder to keep an eye on your child. There is however only one exit. But I couldn't stand there... Don would take Mac to the top of the slides and then I would have to catch him. Grace didn't want to hang around us she wanted to go run, jump, slide and play so I lost her almost immediately. One think that I thought was going to help on this day was that I put her in a different swim suit that was a bit brighter but unfortunately when you are talking at least 200 kids in the same place you just cant keep track.

At one point I remember looking of the sea of children and saying to myself, "what if I can't find her could I just freeze everyone so that I could see her?" With that almost moments later she was right there. I showed her a spot to go to if she was looking for me and couldn't find me. But I tried to get her interested in the slides of this fortress. That is what Don and Mac were doing so I thought if I got her interested she could follow them. So she joined her Dad and Mac a couple times but then I thought what the heck... I hate this stuff but when in Rome. So I did go up the fortress and down the slide with my family.

When we were don there we decided to stand in the line for the Big Bear Mountain Ride. This ride was enclosed so I knew that I would not worry about the ride but going up up up the stairs was making me crazy. Then we were 5 steps from the top and Mac decided he was tired of waiting and he was going to throw a fit... OH JEEZ I was about ready to lose it. I almost felt like I was in those moments of labor when you just say things that you don't mean to say but you are under so much stress that you can't take it. Don is really a trouper because I know that I was crazy. We finally got in the ride and went down... and it was so NOT worth the 45 minutes we were in that line.

With that we decided it was time to go. Don would have stayed all day but the kids were tired and I couldn't take one more moment of stress.

We actually got the kids back to the hotel and they laid down for a nap. Don did the same and I went shopping.

When everyone was awake and ready to go we went and did the touristy things that you do at Pigeon Forge... there are go cart places and children rides all over the park way. So we went and drove the two people go carts. This would have been a blast but there were four guys who did not pay attention to the stop signals and also were just plan rude. I was really trying to stay out of the way so that people could get around and Grace and I could just have a fun race around the track. At one point I got hit so hard I thought we were going to flip over and then at the end of the race they all hit us so hard that one girl couldn't move and get out of her cart. Grace and I were ok but I will never take her on that ride again until she is older. I just couldn't believe how rude people were and didn't even care if they hurt someone.

From there we went to the little kids rides. They were great for Mac bt I tell you what, Don has made Grace such a daredevil that she was so bored with the rides. She did like the children's ferris wheel but other than that she just wanted to put 50 cents in the horse that she named bulls-eye. When they had ridden all the rides we went on to the Old Mill Restaurant.

This was the cutest part of Pigeon Forge. It is an old part of town that they have restored and the restaurant is fabulous. We had to wait a while and so we took a walk. I bought the kids new jibbits for their crocks and I found a pen with Mac's name on it ... so I had to buy it. By then it was almost time to eat so we went back to the mill.

They were playing music in the waiting area and so Mac entertained people by dancing and trying to get Grace to join him.

Once in for dinner the food was fabulous.

As always we then left and everyone was exhausted it was at least 10pm ...

I will write more tomorrow...

Day 3 vacation 2007

Did I tell you in yesterday's blog that Don signed us up to go see a timeshare presentation so that we could get some free tickets? Well he did. This is what we figured... free breakfast at our hotel, free lunch at the time share, and then free dinner at Black Bear jamboree.

Well we all woke up late and almost missed our free breakfast. Then we had about 2 hours to kill before going to the presentation so I went to this womens store that I thought was going to have great clothes. Well if I were a 60 year old southern woman looking for great dresses and hats for church OR
a member of the red hat society it was a great place. I did buy a skirt and a birthstone ring for Grace (that she has already lost), but it just wasn't the store I thought it was going to be.

Don took the kids to go look at a play house that
we had seen the last time we had driven through town. He really wanted to make this house but I have told him to wait until we move. So anyway the kids had a great time going through the house. Then they went to a tool store because Don was hoping they would have a drill or something. They didn't but he bought Grace her own shovel (which she has not lost).

By the time they came back to get me it was time for us to go to the presentation.

I have never been to something like this and well I really don't care if I go again. You are lead in like cattle to slaughter. They were going to have lunch which was chili dogs and salad. The kids were starved so the hotdogs without the chili were great for them... Then our sales man, who I did not like from the first moment, started to talk. He was not happy that we had our kids with us. I tried to be interested even though I knew we were not buying anything, and the kids for the most part were well behaved. The resort was very nice but I was amazed at the scam... 21K for one week and $500 maintenance a year. That's over $1M per two bedroom unit... I was shocked. Don told them they were crazy and they basically kicked us out.

We went to get out tickets and I decided I didn't want to do Black Bear jamboree (someone told me the food was bad)... so we got tickets to the Dollywood splash park. The minute the kids were in the car they were asleep. Since Don and I had not had lunch as we passed an old fashion A&W drive in we decided to stop. We thought if we ate in the car, kept it running and kept the movie on the kids wouldn't know to difference. What we didn't count on was a a huge diesel truck starting up right next to us. The naps at that point were over and they wanted to know why we were eating. We thought that if we drove around a bit they would go back to sleep so Don took me to the Scrapbook superstore outlet and he drove around... by 4:15 they were not asleep and Don was tired of driving so we decided to go to Dollywood's Splash Country. It was suppose to be a great splash park and so we had been looking forward to it but Don wasn't too keen on going so late in the day but I thought it would be perfect.

We ran to the hotel, I ran up and got our bag of suits and towels and we were off.

We got there and we were able to park right up front. We were able to walk right in. We got a locker and went
into the locker room to change. I won't even talk about how FILTHY the locker rooms were but right then we decided that if we came back the next day we would be wearing our suits and bring nothing but towels.

We were off to the children's splash area and I can't tell you how much fun the kids had. I however was crazy because they both just wanted to run and you jus don't know if some nut will just pick one of them up and be off with them. But they were able to run and play on a slide and a water jungle gym. Don went down the slide with Mac. Grace was running around this place like she was an old pro. She really wanted nothing to do with us.

We were there for about a half hour when we decided to go to the lazy river when my fear came true... Grace ran off. She was so excited to do the lazy river she just ran when I turned my back. I about lost my mind. Thank the Lord she got caught up in some chairs and I was able to see her when that happened. I sort of scared her and made her cry but... I have to tell you I didn't care. She nee
ds to know that she can't run off!!!

We went to the lazy river and Mac almost fell asleep riding on Don's lap. From there we went to one of those big four to six people slides. It was quite high and I hate heights but I had to be a trouper. The kids can't know that I'm scared of these things. Plus Mac would not have been able to go if I didn't go. I was quite scared as we went down the slide and I think that Mac was scared but we made it though. Mac said that he didn't want to do it again and so the two of us when to the Raintree Soaker Springs and Don and Grac
e when to the sledding slide where they had to ride laying down face first on a mat and go down the slide. Grace is such a daredevil. She was tall enough so she could do it by herself and the her Dad would follow. They were able to do this twice before the park closed.

We then went back to the horrible locker rooms got dressed and went to the best buffet I think that I have ever eaten. The Great American Steak buffet is right across from our hotel. It looked new so Don thought it was the place to go. I was a little leery because of the buffet the night before but it was fabulous. The kids ate like they had never eaten and we were back to the hotel by 8:30.

I didn't pack that much trip because I have learned that we buy things along the way that we can wear and also, most if not all hotels now have washer and dryers. It is wonderful. I stayed up Monday night doing laundry while the family went to sleep. That is ok with me because it give me some alone time with all the crazy stuff we have been doing.

I will write more tomorrow...

At this time it was about and we decided to go to the Splash park. You see if you go after 3 you get in the next day for free.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Day 2 vacation 2007

Day two started off with and interesting twist. We got up everyone was organized went down to breakfast and just as we were leaving a lady comes up to Don and hugs him like they are long lost cousins. Well I don't think the long lost part is correct but it was his cousin Donna and her husband. Now we are in the little town of Horse Cave, Kentucky and we run into his cousin from Pittsburgh, isn't that neat. I have only met her once so I didn't know really who she was but when I saw them together it was strange how much they looked alike.

After that we headed to Mammoth Cave. It was just a short drive but we did make a wrong turn and came into the park from the back side and got a bit nervous we were going to miss our tour. We made it however, with time to spare and so the kids got a chance to play on the rocks for a while and we looked at books about bugs. Grace was quite excited about going into the cave and she also like the fact that there were extra kids going to be on the trip. She talked to anyone who would talk to her as we waited.

We had to ride buses to the cave and both Grace and Mac were quite funny. First of all Mac wanted to sit with Grace. So he got up out of his seat with his Dad and came back to sit with me. Then Grace decided to sing "The Wheels on the Bus" not at the top of her lungs but everyone could hear her. It was quite cute... we tried to get a movie of it but I don't know if that happened because Don was in charge of the camera at that moment.

When we got to our stop the tour guide, Will, told us if we were going to be or wanted to be slow to come to the front and stick with him because he sets the pace for the group. I beelined it to the front with Grace in hand but Don with Mac was just a few people behind us. I knew that Grace was going to want to ask Will questions so I just decided I would make my way to the front.

Entering the cave we had to go down 250 or so steps, made of metal, that you could see through, all the way down... I'm afraid of heights and I didn't think going into the cave I would be so scared b
ut my legs got so rubbery. I was was nuts about the fact that Don had Mac and some times he thinks Mac can do more than he can and I was worried they were holding on... and then I heard there was a big gap and couldn't hear Mac or Don... so I tried to focus on my daughter and the new love of her life, Will, the tour guide. She was so cute. She would talk to him ask questions about bats and cave crickets. Then she would be quite for a minute and say, "Mom what's his name again?" and then say oh yeah and start talking with him about nothing really and he was so nice to her.

When we came to the first stop along the way and my family caught up with us the people right behind me let Don and Mac come up to us because Mac started crying ... he wanted his Mom. We walked a few more feet and there was a place to rest so we sat on long benches and Will talked about the cave. The only thing I could think about was that my kids were too young ( at least Mac was) to be doing this and why was I in this big cave. If the kids were older I know that I would have felt differently. They kept saying that when we get to the end we will see the Frozen Niag
ara and the beautiful rock formations. So I kept walking. We kept Mac walking but it was a long walk for him and hard to maneuver but he kept trudging along. And Grace, well she was with Will and that's all that mattered to her.

At one of the breaks along the way these two people butt in between Grace and me, Don, and Mac. I decided these people had never had children but I was nuts about it because Grace was sort of up with Will without me to catch her if she were to fall. The guy was really rude about it also and I wanted to knock his block off... but I just waited and then the next opportunity I had I went around him and got Don and Mac up there too. I just couldn't believe some of the people.

So we get to the end the last 50 feet or so to the Frozen Niagara. Now I had walked this whole trip looking at nothing but a cave and boring rock. I had been looking forward to seeing these beautiful rock formations... and Will says we have to go down 50 steps and then back up 50 steps but says that
Josh the guide in the rear would be coming up to guide us out. I don't know what we were thinking but I thought Josh would be right there and Mac and I would be able to go out right away and that would be the best.

That was not the case... Don hands Mac to me, him and Grace head down the steps to the frozen Niagara, and I stand to the side with a 40 pound two year old who does not want to be separated from his Dad and sister. I can't even tell you the fit he through. And I have to hold his because there is a drop off. I have all these people... around 150 looking at me with this kid throwing a fit, I know they are wondering why I brought him... but this was the only time he got upset when there were other kids who cried the whole time... but I'm in the front and my kid is throwing the fit. I was mortified. At one point I had to spank him... sort of knock him out of it... Finally what was probably only 2 minutes but seemed like a life time the front of the line made it back to the top. Maybree, a little girl who Mac took a liking to came right up the stairs and took him from me and held his hand on the way out.

Now... we have just spent 2 hours in a cave walking through all this rock that was formed over what some say thousands of years and others say millions but none the less it was rock... and I was waiting to get to the beautiful rock... AND I DIDN'T EVEN GET TO SEE THE BEAUTIFUL ROCK. For a moment I could not believe it. I walked all that way to see rock. UGH!!! But Grace had a great time and so did Don. So it was worth it.

Once out of the cave we had to wait for Will so that Grace could have her picture taken with him and then we got on a bus to go back to the Visitor's center. Once there we knew that we had a long trip ahead so we decided to feed the kids and then off we went on the next leg of the trip.

Pigeon Forge was about 4 1/2 hours from where we were in Kentucky. The kids were exhausted and slept for the better part of the trip. The last hour and a half was a bit brutal but we muddled through. I'm working on sweaters for both of the kids so I just kept knitting and Grace and Mac watched Heffelump in the back. Don was getting very bored driving but he was a trouper.

We got to Pigeon Forge around 6:00 and got our room and then decided to go eat at this buffet place that we had seen the last time we drove through. It's name is Duff's and the parking lot the last time was just packed and so we thought this would be a great place to go... well we were wrong. There was nothing on the buffet eatable except for some fried chicken and mashed potatoes. We were a little bummed that we made a bad choice but oh well... Mac and Grace liked dancing to the music of some old guy who wanted to be a star. It was like being in a REALLY bad B movie.

From there we went back to the hotel and went swimming with the kids. They didn't get to bed until about 11 (10 CST) but none the less late. We brought a mattress for Mac to sleep on the floor and Grace gets the hide away. It is cramped quarters but it works.

I'll write more tomorrow.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Vacation 2007

Vacation 2007 was suppose to start at 5am. We were going to get the kids out of bed and put them in the car in their jammies and we were going to get to Louisville, KY before they needed breakfast. Well that wasn't the case and it really shouldn't surprise anyone.

A month ago we were headed to New York for vacation. We were going to go through Canada and over to Niagara Falls, into Buffalo, and then through the Finger Lakes. A chance to visit people that I had become friends with while I was living out there doing an internship. However, trying to be responsible and not spend so much money on gas and hotels rooms we decided that we would go to Wisconsin Dells. After investigating the costs for rooms and what not we found that it was going to be just as much to go to the Dells as it was to go to New York... so I thought... what about Pigeon Forge... home of Dollywood and many many places for kids to see and do things. We had driven through there on our way home from South Carolina this year and well we sort of fell in love with it, I will get to why later in the week... just know that it is very kid friendly.

So anyway, back to trying to leave. Well the kids had gotten to bed late, I still ha
d to pack, and Don went to bed before the car was packed so I knew there was no way we were getting out of the house early. At 5:30 I woke up after going to bed about 1am and I told Don the time. I was tired so I was hoping that he was going to fall back to sleep for a short while. I was right but I was also shocked that at 6:30 Grace was the first one to wake up and ready to get going... Mac, he slept in for some reason. So about 8:30 after getting everything together and a quick trip to KMart we were on our way.

Don had decided that we were going to go to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky on day one, so that is where we were headed and we were excited about getting away. Grace, who is just so funny at times, kept saying from the back seat "Whew, I'm soooo happy that we are getting away." He dad told her that it is good to get away and so she came up with that little mantra. We got into Louisville about 1:00. We saw signs about the Kentucky derby and decided to take our first detour and so we were off to the Kentucky Derby museum and complex. We thought we would have lunch there and see the museum and be on our way.

On the weekends there is no where to eat at the track except for the OTB food court. We went there but I tell you I was not impressed. And people were rude. There were no seats. all over the place there were tables with just one person at them betting on horses not eating a thing and no one would give us a seat. They looked at us like we were crazy people for bringing our kids there but we didn't know any better and I think that someone from the museum should have told us it would not be appropriate for kids instead of sending us in
that direction.

We finally snagged a table and after eating we headed back to the museum for a guided tour and then a brief movie about Churchhill Downs. Both were good but the kids were getting tired and so were we. I was glad when it was over but Grace had a good time so that is what mattered. She met a new friend, Sierra, and she had a great time walking around with her through the tour.

Once the track closed it was time to get back on the road so we started heading to Mammoth cave and our hotel in Horse Cave, KY. The kids slept part of the way but they really need good naps. When we got to the hotel we were going to go out to Mammoth Cave bet th
ere was a childrens' petting zoo and cave just down the road from where we were staying and so we went there instead.

The Kentucky Down Under was a small facility with a cave, and animals from the outback. Grace and Mac got to see reptiles, birds and kangaroos. They really enjoyed t
he animals. We also went on a walk of the cave. It was not very long but it was semi difficult to get through with little kids. There were also about 20 people in a family that went with us and couldn't speak English and so they never stopped talking because I believe the didn't understand when the guide told them not to talk. This took about 20 minutes, it was ok I was trying to be a trouper for the kids but I really do hate stuff like that. Tomorrow we are going on a 3/4 of a mile hike through a cave that is going to take 2 hours. I hope I can make it. It is really pretty and amazing how these stalactites and stalagmites have formed but I am just not comfortable... Grace and Don however were having a GREAT time. They got to see 2 salamanders and a cave cricket. Mac, he was with me, he didn't like it so much. But when we were finished he got to see the kangaroos and it was all worth it.

Finally at 8:00 we were off to have some dinner and back to the hotel. They have all been asleep for a while but I wanted to try to chronical their trip this year without missing a day. It is now almost midnight so I need to get some sleep as we are off the Mammoth cave in the morning. I need to wear better shoes....

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Artist

So I haven't posted anything on here since April but that is going to change. The kids are changing so much and I need to remember to write down the funny things that they say.

Tonight one of those funny moments happened... It was almost time for bed and Grace came to the top of the steps and yelled, "Mom, NeeNee said I could!!!" Well I knew that that meant that my Mom told her that it was ok if Grace came into her bedroom and finished the project that they had started earlier in the day. However it was close to bed time and she likes to watch a show before she goes to bed so I went to the hallway and said... "you can finish the project but if you do you can't watch anything. You are going straight to bed after you finish."

She looked me dead in the eyes placed her hand on her chest to emphasize her response... " I want to finish Mom, I'm an ARTIST." And then one more time... "It's ok Mom I don't need to watch anything because, I'm an ARTIST!!!"

She is something ... and boy I love her.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A moment I don't want to forget

We are outside waiting for Don to get home from the builder's auction and my kids are just playing in the yard like big kids... But Mac he is all crouched down trying to pop the heads off the dandelions. He had at least 10 in his hand (just the heads) and with his precious little grin came running up to me and threw them on the porch. Like here you go Mom... No Grace is out in the yard picking the wonderful flowers. Who knew that dandelions could bring such joy.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Grossman, The Bears, and my kids

Just thought I would post Great pictures of my kids in their Grossman jerseys. My mom's maiden name is Grossman so I had to buy the jerseys for them. Living on the south side of Chicago we are pretty big Bears fans... SO.... GO BEARS!!!

Friday, January 05, 2007

The SAG Awards got it right!!! almost

Since Monday I have wanted to start a letter writing campaign, starting with a blog, then a letter to Oprah telling her I feel she had committed an offence, and then anyone who would listen... HOW ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH WAS BEYONCE NOMINATED FOR A BEST ACTRESS GOLDEN GLOBE FOR DREAMGIRLS??? The only thing I can figure out is that they are just recreating the premise of the movie and totally robbing the person who deserves the credit for making this movie PHENOMENAL!!!!

Miss Jennifer Hudson is the movie. Sings her heart out, acts her heart out, but what because it's her first movie, "hasn't paid her dues" so to say... she doesn't deserve that nod? I was so upset after seeing this movie and knowing that Beyounce was put in the best actree category and Jennifer Hudson in the supporting role. That is why the SAGs got it right almost... Miss Hudson is the lead in this movie, I'm sure that there was some agreement that she would not submit her role for the lead actress nominations but... she is the lead... HANDS DOWN!!!! (Tell me how Jennifer Holliday wins the Lead Actress in a musical Tony in 1982 for playing Effie, and now the role is a supporting role?)

I went to see this movie in Country Club Hills Illinois where every time Miss Hudson sang there was applause and I think if I had turned around I would have seen people rising from their seats giving her a standing ovation for this performance.

Now I don't want anyone to think that I don't like Beyounce because I do. I think she is a wonderful performer, she has a great voice, I know that she really wanted to do this movie but she could not play the lead, she was not the lead and she does a great job in supporting this film. I didn't understand why Listen was so important when she sang it on Oprah, but seeing it in the film it is something quite special. But by doing this one song and lines that are simply supporting in character, does not make her the lead.

Ok well... now that I have that off my chest I can continue with my day. Take care.

Oh yeah... one last thing... Eddie Murphy is absolutely FABULOUS in this role!!!!