Saturday, January 28, 2006

Jumping Over The Hurdles

I just told Donnie, "if I don't post tonight, it will be old news by tomorrow."

So, I'm just jumping over one of the biggest hurdles I have. It's late.

But we had such a great day that I really want to share it here. I also have some cute photos from last weekend that I need to get up here.

Today was just a great day.

First, took my Daddy with me to get a HUGE 3x6 mirror from a Freecycle offer. It's going to be perfect behind Granny's two green chairs. In her (and PaPaul's) home, she had a mirror of similar size directly behind these chairs. It's going to be cool having a similar arrangement in my home.

I also enjoyed the ride to and from the pickup with my Daddy :)

The kids have been quite entertaining lately. Not only is Hudson REALLY REALLY into being Buzz Lightyear and/or Superman (the red cape has been daily attire this week -- even if he's wearing his Buzz shirt. I dread not letting him wear it to church tomorrow) we also have the 3 big kids really into making up and performing plays. Shayne is the writer, director, and star while Harris Anne and David love being the whatever role Shayne writes for them. The play today was called "Knights In The Night." I didn't quite follow the entire plot but it had something to do with helping a poor person quit stinking! That is SO un-PC. I really don't know where they get it from!

The most impressive and hilarious thing about today's performance was the background music. Shayne would exit from a scene so that she could go to the CD player and push play. She selected AWESOME choices that went perfectly with the scene. Mostly it was horse-riding music and H.A. and David would gallop around the room until the music faded out. Donnie and I thought it was pretty smart.

When the curtain fell, we loaded up for a ride to Prattville. We bribed the kids into being on perfect behavior during lunch so that we could take them to a surprise location. They huddled in the parking lot and did their famous, "1, 2, 3...SUPER WALKER KIDS!" cheer before entering Wendy's restaurant for some Value Menu Crispy Chicken Nuggets.

I had talked Donnie into driving over to P for some mini golf and go carts. We hadn't visited EF in years and had a few coupons that were getting close to expiring. We were able to get a really great price and had a wonderful time. The weather was gorgeous and the young'uns thoroughly enjoyed the friendly competition. And of course, go carts are always a blast.

Lastly, we picked up a few groceries on the way home and enjoyed an AFV episode while eating "Survivor Nachos" that Shayne had cooked for us (she did everything but drain the meat -- it's ground turkey, salsa, black beans, mexicorn, chili pepper, cayenne, paprika -- YUM YUM!)

When the kids were in bed, I worked on uploading a few pictures from the camera then played a game of Scene It and Phase 10 with Donnie while eating a bowl of ice cream.

It was the loveliest of days.

Hope yours was good, too!

Shayne watching Miss America contestant, Miss Alabama, last weekend. While Harris Anne says she'd like to be in a pageant some day, Shayne shows us how little she desires that froo froo stuff.

One spoiled-rotten baby brother.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Good Advice...

(but I still want an iPod)

Found this when blog-surfing led me to Joe's.

DON'T waste money on expensive iPods. Simply think of your favorite tune and hum it. If you want to "switch tracks", simply think of another song you like and hum that instead.

Almost Felt Like A Teacher

I had a first-time experience tonight. Weird one, too.

We were at C, the local deli, when a waitress asked me, "Were you a student teacher for Mrs. J?"

As soon as she said, "student teacher" I knew EXACTLY who she was...well, except for her name, which really frustrated me.

She was one of my favorite students when I was interning in a 3rd grade class. Her Mom was the room mother and they lived a few blocks away from my grandparents. They were one of my favorite families!

We chatted for a few minutes and I told her that I still had the Christmas ornament she gave me and that it still hung on my tree every year.

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, I'm not sad that I'm likely not to ever experience one like it again. I am SO glad God didn't call me into full-time school teaching! THANK YOU, LORD :) I'll leave that job to gals like Jen, who is awesome at it!

I woulda stunk.

Friend's Daughter on American Idol

My friend Greg (Skye's brother-in-law) has a daughter who made it to Hollywood from the NC auditions. Here's a link to her picture.


Time to go watch tonight's episode.

Boy how I wish I had Tivo!! Our VCR makes some pretty crummy footage these days.

My Prediction

Paris will be the next American Idol.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Party Planning

Was doing a little research today. Some birthday party ideas have been floating around in my head and I'm thinking it might be good to get started on some plans.

One idea for Hudson - Buzz Lightyear theme...

Look where the search led me. I found this site by searching "rocket cakes."

This is my favorite! I'm thinking I might attempt it with a few alterations...

Those are doughnuts on a plunger! How easy is that!? I LOVE IT!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

My Biggest Hindrances

I have this problem all the time: What to blog?

Even though time restraints are a big factor in why I don't update daily, the biggest hindrance is my inability to focus on one topic. Every day brings numerous possibilities and my little mind can't settle on just one. I don't know if I should stick with my past routine of cute pictures and daily play-by-play or if I should dig deeper and talk about issues with deeper relevance. In my old "Elephants and Kangaroos" days (would link but the site is gone...ugh) I would tackle deeper issues of my thoughts and feelings and would most often close with scripture. These days, I don't know whether or not to share my views of the latest headline news or share the comments heard during the pre-bedtime Uno game. Should I be a resource linking readers to interesting sites I have looked at throughout the day or should I get back to scripture and document some of the serious life issues I am discussing with my daughters?

I started making a list of possible topics yesterday. I have no idea if any of these will ever make it to post:

*Hudson moving from our bed to his bed and weaning.

*Threats of terror and hostage situations.

*Our friend Ronnie D who is sharing ideas about his funeral as he continues to work as a cop in Baghdad.

*Pillar of EHBC and SS teacher who died unexpectedly. If we were still there, she probably would have been the Hudman's teacher. She leaves her husband of 54 years.

*The kids and their TV restriction (guidelines and mercies.)

*Lucy's transition to being an outside dog.

*My motion sickness at the IMAX theater.

*Miss America.

Parts of me wish I had a completely anonymous blog while other parts of me think that I'd never have any consistent readers if only strangers were stumbling across my stuff. I think the only reason I have any readers now is because there are a few who are curious to see my kids and what we've been doing.

Well, I guess I should just continue with this mediocre blog until I'm inspired to do something bigger and better.

Thanks for supporting my mediocrity :)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Day 4 - Epcot

LOVED THIS DAY! We parked in a front parking space, right next to the handicapped parking! We were at the beginning of the line and ready to go! We started asking for help with our map while standing at the ropes (because I was TOTALLY out of my bearings and the map is not even close to being to-scale.) As soon as the ropes fell, we joined several other very excited tourists as we were escorted by cast members to Test Track "We" actually did not include Donna because she volunteered to get the FPs for Soarin. She had said this was not her favorite ride and was easily skippable by her standards. Therefore, we assumed it would be a one-time deal for us, too. W-R-O-N-G-O! We loved it! We had to tweak our plans to add in a few more trips around the track because it was sooo fun! We also learned the BEAUTY of the "single rider" lane. We noticed it when Donnie was serving as volunteer stroller/baby-sitter. Instead of sending him back up with a Parent Swap (and a couple of kids) we decided to hurry him through by sending him to the single rider line. WAAAAAAAAAAY faster than even the FP/PS deal. Amazing. I don't know why more people didn't take advantage of it. ESPECIALLY teenagers... There is zero wait there.

After TT, we had a little time before Soarin so we went to The Living Seas attraction. Really neat. Of course there was the GIGANTIC aquarium where we saw stingrays and sharks (couldn't find the dolphins and were told they sometimes would hide when it wasn't show time. Hmm.) But the really cool thing was something I didn't really expect to be all that great. The Turtle Talk With Crush was a showcase of AMAZING interactive technology. I was pretty impressed. And I'm SO thankful we followed TGM's advice for this show (see the 1st or 2nd show only) because as cool as it was, I would NOT want to wait an hour or more to see it.

Next we made our way over (after my almost leading everyone astray. It took me a LONG time to get my bearings of this huge place) to Soarin. I want to link it again because it was TRULY astonishing. I was a little nervous about it because it's a virtual reality ride. I have a history of being car-sick with some VR rides but NOT with this one. It was breathtaking. I swear it felt like flying over California in a hang-glider. The real thing could not have been too different. And the technology is so advanced that motion-sickness wasn't even close to being an issue. We rode it numerous times.

AND we found a Hidden Mickey there!

After these thrillers we started the first half of our "World Showcase" tour. First stop. Norway. Nice little viking ride there that actually DID catch us off guard for a second. Next was the extremely...uh...GENTLE (yes, that's a polite word) boat ride in Mexico. Our lunch also came from Meh-hee-ko and it was yummmmmm yum. At the table I was able to layout our schedule for the rest of the afternoon. We would be hopping from one country to another but if we followed the Times Guide just right, we'd be able to see everything we wanted.

However, that was IF everything ran on schedule. Unfortunately, it did not. The comedy troupe in England was very funny (kids were spellbound) but very late. I wasn't sure how to arrange around this hiccup because we really wanted to see it and thought we could just skip an act or two and get back on schedule. Well...the juggler from Italy decided to take the day off but didn't realize it until he never showed up. We had asked two separate cast members where he would perform and they didn't say, "He's not here today." Oh well.

In an effort to regain scheduling plans, we walked over to the United States. There we were able to be involved in a very patriotic moment, including saying the Pledge of Allegiance with our children leading the way. Very cool.

The U.S. also has an American Showcase show that I found very moving and uplifting. It was very patriotic and educational and not at all boring. I don't think everyone in the party found it as entertaining as me (and Shayne) though.

We ended up having to scrap all other World Showcase performances for time constraints. I was a little bummed by that and wished we had scheduled an extra day here. Live and learn.

Another really neat highlight to our day was Shayne being chosen as a volunteer for the Kodak (ultra-commercial) scientist of the year award. This was in the Imagination attraction. Isn't she adorable?

We had dinner reservations at the Garden Grill as part of our Candlelight Processional Reservations Package. This experience was one of the biggest highlights of our entire trip! We ate at this ultra-cool restaurant that revolves through The Land. Therefore our scenery was great.

And the food...ohmy...

We ate and we ate and we ate and we ate. The restaurant doesn't take your orders, they just bring the menu to your table and serve you 'family style.' That means they bring MOUNDS of food and you serve yourself. We had steak, turkey (YUM), catfish, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and corn. The kids had chicken fingers and macaroni-n-cheese. And if the bottomless platters weren't enough, they loaded us up with desserts richer than your wildest imaginations. The kids were able to decorate their own cupcakes (and with the cutest little Mickey sprinkles!) We needed a wheelbarrow to get us out of there!

And that's only PART of our enjoyment. This restaurant was more than just good food. It was a spectacular meeting place for Characters. Chip and Dale and Mickey and Pluto walked from table to table and spent a lonnnng time with each family posing for pictures and hugging the kids. It was priceless. We give uber thumbs up to Pluto. He spent a LOT of time with us.

After dinner, we took a leisurely walk back towards the World Showcase for our Candlelight Processional. We needed the walk for sure!

The Candlelight Processional is the only Disney event I know about (and I'll be the first to admit I don't know everything) that has an openly Christian theme. Church choirs from around the country are invited to perform during this program and all of the music was deeply spiritual and religious (save a Frosty the Snowman or similar during the orchestra's pre-show concert.) Disney's upper crust singers are in this program, too (supposedly the Liberty Singers are the most sought-after positions in the entire resort) and BOY CAN THEY SING! The music was just incredibly powerful and inspirational. And to top THAT off, Steven Curtis-Chapman read the bible story to us, STRAIGHT FROM THE BIBLE! It was really awesome. A must-see.

Lastly, we did some scrambling from the World Showcase back to Test Track for one more ride and then a mad dash back to China where we met up with Donna and Nathan for Epcot's famous fireworks and laser show. It was impressive but I do have to question why Epcot loves their TV globe so much. I didn't think it was all that great. I guess Sylvania is paying for the advertisement or something.

The worst part of the day came at the end. The traffic. Ohmygosh...

The park closes at 9. We took TGM's advice to hang back and not get in the mad dash for the door. I don't know if that was the best plan or not. With our front parking spot, being the last out of the park LITERALLY MEANT BEING LAST OUT OF THE PARK! By the time we were in our van (maybe at 9:30??) we realized we had made a huge mistake. How the heck to get out of that park?

We got desperate after seeing ZERO MOVEMENT for 30 minutes and made a mad dash for a non-exit. We got yelled at by a cast member but avoided him (and thankfully, a police chase) and melted into the bumper-to-bumper. It was after 11 when we got back to the condo (a drive that should have taken no more than 10 minutes!)

The kids were zonked in the car, of course. We had to lug them upstairs one at a time. David was the first one in. He didn't even make it to the bedroom.

Only 2 more days of our trip. Hope you're not bored to tears yet! To be continued...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Day 3 - Animal Kingdom

Not "Animal Planet" which came out of my mouth more often than it did not when talking about this particular park.

Our visit this day was a nice, slow one. We only rushed to 1 FP (and it was definitely worth it) and then spent the rest of the time casually moving from one attraction to the other. This park doesn't have all the big thrills of the other ones but since we knew that going in, we weren't at all upset about the lack of edge-of-your-seat excitement.

In fact, because of our low-key expectations, we probably enjoyed it even more. We took our first rides over in an area that reminded us of the State Fair. There was a Dumbo-type ride called TriceraTop Spin that was perfect for the Hud-man. Since Hudson was able to ride it numerous times in a row, he became somewhat attached to it and cried when it was time to leave. Very cute.

The only thrill-type attractions here are Dinosaur, and Kali River Rapids. Dinosaur was pretty intense but not psychologically damaging. Kali RR was a bit disappointing for me and Donnie but was fun for the kids. (Thunder River at Six Flags Over Georgia is much more exciting.)

The one ride we rushed to get a Fast Pass for was the Kilimanjaro Safaris. The line for it built up QUICKLY and we were able to just walk past everyone. I think our tour guide could have been a little better but I hold a very high standard for cast members. Not everyone is going to live up to it.

One of our favorites can be found inside the central "Tree of Life." The funny and kinda scary It's Tough To Be A Bug 3D movie is found there. The bigger kids enjoyed it but parts of it were a teeny bit intense for Hudson. When the "bug spray" flew in our faces he said, "I don't like that."

It was a PERFECT day for being a slow day. We had spent two days in a row opening and closing the parks and we were ready for a little less activity. This resulted in a longer lunch break and skipping the non-essentials. I even talked everyone into skipping out of The Lion King Show so we could get our picture with Mickey before the big rush. The Character meeting space for this park is just outside the LK show and I knew it would be a mob afterwards. THANKFULLY Hudson said he needed to go potty and gave me a perfect non-lie excuse to ask a cast member to usher us out of the theater. Whee :)

During that long lunch break, Shayne and I did a little hunting for some Hidden Mickeys. Stephanie had given her a hint-book for finding these little gems throughout the parks. Even WITH the hints, we had a VERY difficult time. It was fun looking for and finding them but it would have been more fun if we had more time and weren't having to keep a schedule to avoid crowds. I'm showing one HM we found at the Pizzafari restaurant. Do you see it? Each room had murals covering the walls and this was in the "Nocturnal Room." Those are fireflies.

Lastly, we decided to skip the afternoon parade (even though it is one of TGM's favorites) because I remembered it as being one that I found way too...I don't know....low-budget or something...for my Disney taste. Instead we took a rest on a park bench and waited for the Tarzan Rocks! show. It was really good but we were too pooped to take any video or still pictures. Hudson was asleep in my arms during the whole thing. I think he realized he missed it after we were home (as in Alabama home, not just the condo) because he said, "Tarzan Rocks?" and pointed to the emblem on his Tarzan shirt. Today he brought me the Tarzan video and wanted to watch it. I really do think he realizes he missed something.

The show was impressive with lots of Cirque-de-Soleil-type acts mixed with a rock band and roller blade stunts. Very uniqe.

When leaving the Tarzan Rocks! show we saw the construction of an AMAZINGLY life-like snow-capped mountain with an amazing coaster flying through and down it. It will be called Expedition Everest and looks to beat out all the other Disney mountains (Space Mtn., Big Thunder Mtn., Splash Mtn.) in thrill factors. We definitely look forward to future visits at Animal Kingdom for this attraction alone.

This was our first early-ending day and THAT made for a wonderful night back at the condo. We got home, bathed, ate supper, and hit the sack super-early. It was great! We needed the rest because another long day awaited us the following morning.

And little did we know that our next day would be our favorite. Stay tuned for Day 4 - EPCOT.

Pictures from our leisurely bench-sitting, pre-Tarzan time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Discipline Needs

And the needs are mine.

I need to be more disciplined at:
Bible Study (with Donnie. We're in our 4th week and it's always me that makes us drag.)
Stepping away from the computer.
Cleaning the house.
The little things.

I think my kids are suffering from my lack of discpline which is leading to:
Too busy lives. Poor David and Hudson have bouts of pure physical exhaustion. They need more rest because their tired bodies create major discipline problems.
Too messy house. The girls' room is the worst. It disgusts me. And we are not home enough to enforce proper cleaning routines. I also have allowed more playtime (outside and at friends' houses) when we should/could have been cleaning. Yes, they NEED playtime but even just cutting it short a few minutes each day would help out around the house SO much. These things will change in January.
Too little quality time. Even my girls are showing some unusual discipline problems. I think everyone in the family is struggling to regain footing after a busy holiday time. We did not have ANY down-time. While Disney World was WONDERFUL, it got us all out of whack and we're still recovering.

New plans are being formulated and implemented. Prayers are being lifted. Things will change.

Of all the Hee-Haw Things...

My rant must have gotten back to Yahoo! headquarters because my Christmas Card Website is BACK! :)

Something was wonky for sure. I'm guessing there was just a glitch of some sort and I happened to check in during the glitch.

A big, fat, "WHEW" from me :)


So why, oh why have I built a website with them for at least 5 or so years??? BECAUSE THEY ARE FREE AND EASY! I have always put family webpages there and have built numerous little websites for other people. Our Sunday School has a website there.

But I go to look in at my "Walker Annual Christmas Card" website, it is GONE! ARGH! I have this stupid notice about it being gone because I possibly violated a "Terms Of Service." I don't know which TOS it was, though! Is there a TOS saying I can't have too many cute kids or something!? I know I had a link to our photographer's website to give him credit for posting a copyrighted picture but I have personal and written permission from him to do so. And there is NOTHING on my family site that hasn't been there for 5 years or more.

I wonder if I had too many hits over the holidays. For a non-commercial site that is. Hmmm.

Stupid Yahoo!


Again, HATE Yahoo!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Day 2 - Magic Kingdom

Doesn't EVERYONE love Space Mountain!? Believe it or not, everyone (44 inches or taller) in OUR family does! With our experienced handling of Fast Pass and Parent Swap, we rode this ride more than we really wanted to! It was great. But the true FAVORITE of EVERYONE (including the less-than 44 inches crowd) was Buzz Lightyears's Space Ranger Spin. And I must say that TGM's hints for playing this game allowed me to kick booty all over the place. I got the highest score every time! (Not bragging, of course! -- LOL) I wouldn't have had a clue if it wasn't for TGM, though...and everyone else would have rubbed me out if I didn't have a little insider information.

Thankfully we knew we would be hitting this park again at the end of the week so we didn't cram everything into 1 day. We did make this another late night so we could watch the Spectromagic Parade and Wishes Fireworks display. It was ~~**M**A**G**I**C**A**L**~~

This picture is from the longest line-wait we had...a whopping 30 minutes (yeah, baby.....) Pirates of the Caribbean doesn't have Fast Pass so we had to do it the old-fashioned way. Still, because of our timing, we were able to hit it pretty well. It DID give us the opportunity to tell the kids about the 'good ol' days of standing in line forEVER when all of us were younger.

Popsicle Break

This is Hudson happily waiting for the Spectromagic parade.

Coming...(waiting with baited breath...I know)
Day 3 - Animal Kingdom

Monday, January 09, 2006

NOT Disney Pictures

Even though it DID snow (artificially) at the Magic Kingdom as we walked down Main Street, these are NOT pictures from that night.

These are pictures emailed to me by Donnie's Uncle Cliff and show Donnie's cousin Alan making an incredibly cool (har har) snow sculpture in Minnesota recently. I just wanted to show them off here!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Day 1 - MGM

Ready or not, here comes the rundown of our Disney World vacation!

Day 1 - MGM studios
Arrived before gates open. Very important for a successful DW experience. Carefully coordinated stroller-renting and fast-passing with family members. Rode Aerosmith's Rock 'n' Rollercoaster and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror numerous times within the first hour of the park's opening. MUCHO fun. David surprised us all with his absolute LOVE of Tower of Terror. We had to arrange times to squeeze in a few extra rides for him throughout the day. Paw Paw stressed us all out a little bit as he rushed through a parade route to get David some extra FP's just before our dinner reservation time. We were SURE he wouldn't make it back in time but he surprised us and reached a very high ranking on David's Favorite Moments of All Time list.

We tried not to stop for characters very often but JoJo and Goliath were THE characters Hudson most expected and wanted to see. Thankfully we were VERY ahead of schedule (thanks to TGM) so we had the leisure of stopping for a few pics from time to time.

Notice that David is not in many of the character pictures.
It took him a little while to warm-up to the idea of posing with them. He obviously wanted a photographic record of his attendance however because we caught him taking a self-portrait near the Chipmunks :)

Lights! Motors! Action! was an I N C R E D I B L E show but extremely crowded. Donnie and I, along with Donna, Nathan, and the girls nearly missed our chance to see it. Thankfully we are all troopers when it comes to fighting Disney crowds and we made it to our saved seats with the rest of the family. This show was one of Hudson's absolute favorite things of the trip. It was really awesome. A definite must-see.

In the gigantic (I mean, REALLY HUGE) stadium before the L!M!A! show.

Our dinner at Hollywood and Vine was superb and the special reserved seating at Fantasmic made all of our rushing around for reservations TOTALLY worth it (all reservations were full MONTHS in advance but Donna and I kept trying back, hoping for a cancellation to open some spots somewhere. Our persistence paid off!)

Waiting for our dinner reservation.

There were numerous boo-boos on this trip. This is me cuddling David after the first one. He was playing on a bench and his foot slipped through the wooden slats. After some Emprizone, FIRM, and a lot of lovin', he was good to go. It was a doozy of a bruise but didn't slow him down a bit!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

We're (Sweet) Home (Alabama)

We're still playing catch-up but I have finally uploaded our Disney World pictures to the computer. I hope to have started posting them here by the weekend.

The trip was WONDERFUL! Can't wait to share it all with you!

Happy New Year! I'm confident this year will be full of blessings! Let's hope we can recognize them all and give THANKS and PRAISES where THANKS AND PRAISES are due!

Thank you, LORD.

More soon...

p.s. I desperately want to talk about Bowl Games but I will refrain. Let it suffice to say that we thoroughly enjoyed football Monday! I even enjoyed listening to a non-Bama post-game call-in show! And that's all I will say.