Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Notes from a day

No matter how busy I am, there's always time for Top Chef.

(Spoiler alert!!)











It was Mark's time to go. I knew he'd be gone soon and tonight was his night. I was surprised to see Stephanie on the bottom, though her dish looked terrible. I think the competition will be very close, once they finally get rid of Lisa....

I did find tonight's episode somewhat inspiring as I thought I could make several of the dishes they served. We'll see.

Got a couple of photos from today. JKSW and I took her kids to the DuPage Children's Museum. Then we went down by the Naperville Riverwalk. We parked in front of the Nichols Library (the public library for Naperville) where they have this totally cool Cat in the Hat sculpture.

We went in the library for just a couple of minutes so I could look around. I came away with one idea that I thought was good. At their check out stations, they have those wooden play structures mounted on the front of the counter so that little kids have something to occupy them while their parent checks out items.

Other than that, I wasn't blown away by anything in particular. They did have signs up that said they were no longer adding VHS videos or books on tape to their collection. While no library adds VHS to their collections anymore, it was refreshing to find a library that finally stopped adding books on tape. (They do have books on CD, don't worry.) I think it's time for the tape formats to die a quick death. At least in the public library arena.

Anyway, it was a long, exhausting, great, day. I know some of you (Maria) are waiting for my final Disney trip report. Cut me some slack. The Wilders are here until Friday morning, then Friday night, my sister in law and family arrive for the weekend, due to my niece getting confirmed. We have a choir concert Friday night, too, and a band concert Saturday afternoon.

The news on my Dad is that the doctor at the Mayo Clinic wants to see him sometime in the next two weeks to decide when to do his surgery. No news until that appointment.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Yeah, yeah, I'm here

No time to blog on the weekends, you know. Only at work -- har! Just kidding, if anyone from work is reading this.

Well, Friday night was kind of quiet, other than the thunderstorms that rolled through. I bagged up a bunch of items to donate to the youth group's upcoming garage sale. It seems no matter how much stuff I get rid of, there's always something more I can donate.

Saturday was a marathon day. Got the car worked on in the morning.

Hannah's birthday was Saturday. She wanted her cousin, Sarah, her friend, Jessi, and me to all go to Medieval Times. Since we haven't done much for her birthday the past couple of years, I agreed. Hannah had band practice until 11:30 so I told the girls' parents to get them to my house at 11:30 so then I could just pick up Hannah from band and we would straight to MT from there.

The girls had a great time, and Hannah said it was the best birthday ever. Our knight won, but was cruelly stabbed in the back, but he was avenged by the prince, so all was well in the end.

We went straight to church after that as I had to play the piano for that night's service. The girls hung around doing whatever it is that teen girls do while I rehearsed. Then we all went home for cake and ice cream! Yea!

We didn't really eat dinner that night. We were so full from MT and then cake and ice cream we didn't need anything. The girls all disappeared into the basement and watched Labyrinth and Dave and I watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I enjoyed the movie much more than the book. I could finally follow the plot. I didn't really want to watch it, but I didn't like anything that was on, and was too lazy to go to Blockbuster and get a movie.

There were a whole bunch of Disney shows on the Travel Channel this weekend. We recorded them all but only watched "Disney on a Dime". I have a few issues with some of their tips, such as getting the Park Hopper option on your ticket. Um, that costs more, so how does it save you money?? Whatever -- only 32 more days until our next trip!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Being grateful

I've spent too much time focusing on the negative lately. One of the gals from my women's group emailed 4 things to be grateful for and challenged us all to come up with 6 more for a list of 10. So here goes: (nos. 1-4 are from her email)

  1. You woke up this morning.
  2. You had options in your wardrobe for the day.
  3. You had food available to eat if you wanted it.
  4. You had the option to open your Bible and talk to your Father if you wanted to.
  5. I had plenty of pain relievers to choose from for my sore jaw. (Bad dentist appointment yesterday)
  6. I drove a car that I own to work.
  7. I have a good, secure job to go to.
  8. There were still leftover snacks and birthday treats in the staff room.
  9. I am prepared for band practice for tonight.
  10. There's a new episode of LOST on Thursday night! W00t!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Disney Report, part whatever we're up to



Back to the Disney Report. Day two. The Magic Kingdom.

We got to the park entrance about 8:30 am. The park opening ceremony is one of my favorite things to see at Disneyworld. Even though the official opening time is 9:00 am, the opening ceremony takes place at 8:45 am so that guests can start filtering into the park. (The folks at Disney are geniuses at handling large crowds.)

The plan was to attack the biggest attractions first. So we headed to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and next to Splash Mountain, sans Fastpasses. Then we picked up Fastpasses for Splash Mountain so we could return later. I think we also hit Peter Pan and The Haunted Mansion before deciding we needed breakfast.

About the only place to really get breakfast is the bakery back on main street. As we approached, we saw a marching band headed down main street. I think it was prime weekend for all those high schools to hit Disneyworld. My first thought was "rats, this is going to slow us down". But they quickly passed by and we got bagels and cream cheese.

The rest of the morning is something of a blur. We did a fair amount of criss crossing back and forth across the parks. The only line we really stood in for any length of time was for Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. But Buzz is a continuous-loading ride and I will wait in standby lines for continuous loading rides such as Buzz Lightyear, Peter Pan, and the Haunted Mansion. But only if the wait is 30 minutes or less.

It was around noon that we had a crisis. Julie got sunscreen in her eye and was in great discomfort. We did go to first aid where they supplied her with saline and a contact case, as well as a clean, cool private room where she could attempt to remedy her contact situation. The saline didn't help completely and after a couple more rides we decided we needed to return to our resort for additional contact lens products.

We didn't even have to wait for a bus and soon were back in our room where, much to our delight, we found a bouquet of balloons and a signed photograph of Snow White wishing us a happy birthday. Dave and Merle both denied having anything to do with it. I guess it's part of Disney magic.

With the contact lens restored, we headed back to the park and continued our frenetic zig-zagging from one side of the park to the other depending on wait times and fast pass availability. I don't recommend this approach for small children. I do recommend that if you have a group, you give one person all the park passes and send them on ahead to get fastpasses for the major attractions while the rest of the group works its way through the smaller attractions where wait times are more manageable.

You can count on a short wait for It's a Small World and Mickey's Philharmagic. And I would not miss either of those attractions. During the afternoon parade we were able to ride Splash Mountain again, sans fastpass. If you're not into parades, it's a great time to get in line for an attraction as the crowds are elsewhere.

For dinner we had reservations for Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort. We got on the wrong monorail line at first, but, when we went to board the correct monorail, we were asked if we would like to sit in the front with the driver. Would we? Of course! We did have something of a sultry monorail driver, though. He was the only cast member who did not want to engage us in conversation.

Chef Mickey's was great. Lots of good food again, and we were personally visited by Mickey and the gang. We even got special birthday cupcakes. W00t!

After dinner, of course we headed back to the Magic Kingdom. It was open until midnight!! We rode the Jungle Cruise in the dark, which seemed to lose quite a bit of charm after the sun went down. And the wait time for Pirates of the Caribbean was only 10 minutes. But we literally walked right on the ride. I protested that the wait time was posted as 10 minutes but we didn't have to wait at all.

Since we opted not to watch the Spectromagic parade or the Wishes nighttime spectacular, we were able to revisit the big three "mountain" rides. We were starting to slow down, due to identical blisters forming on our feet and we were back in our resort room by midnight.

Stay tuned for day three, if you're still interested. Coming up -- the Animal Kingdom!

(Yes, I know I didn't link out to all the attractions. I'm tired. You know where to find them, at www.mouseplanet.com.)

James Whitcomb Riley

Maria, have you seen this site?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Crapola

I did NOT have a good weekend. Ugh.

Friday night I left a $50 gift certificate on the table at our school's auction. D'oh!

I discovered that we went over our cell phone minutes last month, resulting in a much bigger bill than normal. It was pretty much my fault. I used the most minutes, calling the house on my way home from work instead of calling one of our other cell phones. Grrr.....

I got grief from the music director for making "too many changes" to the song lyrics for next Saturday's bulletin. Hel-lo? It's all in Word, what's so freaking hard about making changes?

But of course, right after that, I was asked to pick songs for the next month's worth of Saturday services, half of which I won't even be playing for. *sigh*

Okay, so I'm having a bit of a pity party, I know. I'm stressing about going to the dentist tomorrow and wondering how much that's going to cost. I'm stressing about the fact that my 10-year old can't seem to walk out of the front door without falling down and scraping her knees, elbows, shins, hands, legs, etc. She's got more band-aids on her body than a Chinese phone book! I'm stressing about the fact that I have to give a presentation to my library peers on Friday. I'm stressing about how I promised to write a skit for the 8th grade class banquet and didn't get it done this weekend. (Well I guess I could start now...)

On the bright side, there's only 40 more days until my next trip to Disneyworld.....

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Show updates

We interrupt our Disney report to comment on Top Chef and The Office.

Top Chef is easy. We all knew that Ryan wasn't going to last long. I was surprised that he lasted this long. I really don't want to see Mark go, but it's inevitable as well. I think I'm going to start rooting for Stephanie because she's been among the top three in the elimination challenge quite often. I was worried about her at first because I recall that she was so nervous in episode one that her hands were shaking as she prepared the meal. But I think she's gotten into the swing of things.

As we know, when you get complacent, like Richard showed us with the fish scales, that's when you screw up. I don't think that Stephanie will be complacent. She's there to work hard. I hope she goes all the way.

Now, on to more dramatic shows....

"Would you wait for me one second while I tie my shoe?"

WOW!! My heart actually skipped a beat, though I knew in the back of my head that this could not possibly be the moment. I do love that Jim already has the ring. I just hope they don't do some kind of horrible stupid cliff hanger at the end of the season. There is just no way that Pam would leave Jim hanging.

Also, I am glad the episode took place in the office itself. Those are my favorite episodes. Poor Andy, lost a penny out of his loafers? Ha! I love Andy, and I love his line:
"How am I going to pay my kids' orphanage bills?"

I ended up watching the episode at nbc.com as our lousy horrible Dish Network DVR recorded two hours of Lost reruns instead of the NEW episode of The Office. Grrrr........

Disney photos

Okay, a few of our trip photos can be found over at flickr.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Trip Report, Part 3

We were disappointed that the Maelstrom was not open, but we visited the Stave Church in Norway. The church is almost always deserted and it's a nice quiet place to make a phone call. We pretty much glossed right by China as they weren't showing their film that late at night. Bypassing most of China was also part of our own personal protest against the treatment of the people of Tibet. Take that, China!

We did stop in and see the American Adventure. I have been backstage at these show and it is a mechanical wonder. I always get choked up when I see Jim Henson's face during the montage of famous faces with the patriotic music.

After that, we felt we had pretty much seen as much of the park that we were going to see. Of course, we were at the furthest point from the front entrance, which was were we needed to go to catch the bus. But I enjoy walking through EPCOT at night. I think that Spaceship Earth looks brilliant, lit up against the night sky. Crap! That's what we didn't do: Spaceship Earth! And it has been renovated since I last saw it. Well, I guess I'll have to go back....

That concludes day 1 of our tour. To be continued....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Trip Report, Part 2

Where was I? Oh, yes, the first leg of our trip around the world. We took our time, taking in as much of the ambiance of each country as we could. We saw O Canada and Impressions de France. I think the Canada movie is more entertaining, but you can actually sit in cushioned chairs in France, so it's hard to say which attraction I enjoyed more. Both made me want to visit the country they represented, so I say both movies are successful. In France, we also had our photo taken with Princess Aurora, better known as Sleeping Beauty.

Julie particularly enjoyed the architecture in Morocco. It reminded her of Spain. We wandered around here because I thought there was a reproduction of a letter to George Washington from some government official from Morocco about Morocco becoming the United States' first ally. But I couldn't find it.

We spent a fair amount of time in the stores at the Japan pavilion. Hannah wanted me to find out how much a kimono cost so that she could purchase one when we return to DW in June. Julie and I ended up both buying a Buddha board. It's a small piece of slate that you can paint on with water. Then as the water evaporates, the picture disappears.

Next was Italy, where there isn't much to do. Julie suggested that we simply find a place to sit for a while, but I said that if we wanted to rest, we should just go next door to Germany and see if our dinner reservation was ready.

Thanks in part to my brilliant planning, we were seated in the Biergarten within a few minutes of checking in. I didn't even have time to go next door and order a glass of wine! We were seated with a family from the United Kingdom who found it charming that we were both Julies and it was both our birthdays.

The Biergarten is one of my favorite restaurants in all of DW. The band was playing, there were people dancing (not very well), there was plenty to eat and drink and everything was delicious! We spent a lot of time here as we would try to sample as many things as we could, then wait a few minutes to be hungry again so we could go back for more! The Bavarian Cheesecake was simply divine. We tried to split bites of the various desserts, but we both had to go back for more cheesecake. MMMMmmmmmm

By the time we finally left, it was nearly 8:00 pm and Julie was concerned because our Fastpasses for Soarin indicated that we should return between 7 and 8 o'clock. I reassured her that they would let us in the Fastpass line even after the window had "expired". But we walked as briskly as our stomachs would allow.

We practically walked on the ride, whereas the standby line was a 75 minute wait. What can you say about Soarin'? You really feel like you are flying. It's simply amazing. We left the ride feeling like we had really experienced all that we possibly could.

By the time we got finished with Soarin', Illuminations had started. Since we had not staked out a great viewing point, we simply meandered behind the stationary crowds, catching a glimpse of fireworks now and then. We decided we couldn't leave the park without one more ride on Test Track so it was back to the single rider line again. At least this time we were in the same car.

By the time we were done there, Illuminations had ended and the great mass exit had begun. We considered leaving, but when I pointed out that there were countries we had not yet visited, Julie insisted she was ready for more -- and I was, too!

We worked our way against the crowds to get to the Mexico pavilion, which has fantastic ambiance as well. Of course we took a ride on the Gran Fiesta Tour.

By now we were into the "Extra Magic Hours" of the park, where Disney resort guests are allowed stay in the parks past the official closing time. So the crowd was thinning, but the wait times on the most popular rides was not diminishing very much.

To be continued....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Trip Report, Part 1

Ah, the Disney trip. It was, in a word, wonderful. I had hoped to get some photos posted to flickr before posting, but I've found myself waiting for some people to meet me for margaritas so I have time now.

Day 1 - Friday, April 11

JKSW arrived Thursday night due to the AA fiasco, so she was already in the Magical Express area at MCO when my flight landed. There were no lines, so we quickly boarded the bus to the Pop Century Resort. Our room was very close to the bus stop (as I had requested) and it also overlooked the main pool (which we did not use).

Upon checkin, we both got "Happy Birthday" buttons and wrote our names on them. We wore them all the time and it was a great source of hilarity as people would see us and say "Happy Birthday Julie! And Happy Birthday.... Julie?" Then most people would proceed to ask us if we were either sisters or twins. Yeah, that's right. Our parents couldn't think of a name other than "Julie". Still, those buttons earned us three free chocolate chip cookies within 20 minutes of wearing them, so it was worth it!

We only took a few minutes to slather on some sunscreen and we headed straight for EPCOT. We got to the Land Pavillion right around noon and picked up Fastpasses for Soarin' -- which weren't good until 7:00 pm!! WOW! We got some lunch and while we were eating, I noticed that by 12:30 pm the entire days' supply of Fastpasses for Soarin' had all been distributed.

I made a mental note of this for our upcoming DW trip in June. Maria, when you go to EPCOT proceed immediately to Soarin' for Fastpasses! You don't want to have to wait in the standby line for 100 minutes!!

Our first attraction was Honey, I shrunk the audience. We pretty much just walked on to the ride. At least, the pre-show was already in progress when we entered.

For our next ride, Mission Space, we decided we would brave the 50 minute standby line so that we could go on team orange: more intense training. The time passed fairly quickly as we hadn't had much time to visit just yet. Julie got a little nervous, but was much less shaken up after the ride than I was.

Next we took the single rider line for Test Track. Julie thought this was great fun. It's one of my favorites, too.

Then we started our tour around World Showcase. We started at the United Kingdom and proceeded in a counter clockwise fashion around the lagoon. Our intent was to end up at the Germany pavilion in time for our dinner reservation.

To be continued....

Monday, April 14, 2008

And we're back!

Whew! What an exhilarating weekend! Julie and I met up Friday morning around 9:45 am when my flight landed and we didn't stop going until 12:30 am! We were exhausted! But it was fantastic! I'm way too overwhelmed and tired to post a trip report, but I promise I will once I get the photos uploaded to flickr -- hopefully tonight.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

And we're off!!

This weekend's trip is all coming down to the wire, now.

Of course JKSWilder's flight was cancelled! I almost started to cry. But she actually got on a flight TONIGHT!! And she booked herself in a hotel that also provides airport shuttle service. So the new plan is for us to meet up at the Magical Express Counter tomorrow morning, after I land.

All in all, despite the anxiety, we're going to end up with more time on Disney property since we don't have to wait for her to arrive after me. See? God provides!! He is not only Good, He is Great!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Spoiler Alert!

Spoiler alert! If you have not watched today's episode of Top Chef -- be warned! I will reveal who had to "pack their knives and go"!

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Finally that horrible Zoi has been booted off! W00t!

I have to admit I thought from the previews that Dale was yelling that Zoi was a whiner, but he is right that Lisa is a big complainer, too. It's hard to believe that team fire pulled it off when they so clearly had trouble getting along. I think it was a rip off that Lisa won it all while Stephanie, who cooked the shrimp, did not win it all. I think Dale would have been satisfied if Stephanie had won. C'mon, it's bacon for crying out loud! Then again the chefs do love bacon....

Back to the main issue. Zoi is "out". I say "it's about time!". I got a comment (again, I can't believe anyone reads this blog) a little while back:
Why are you NOT rooting for the "couple"? You put the word couple in quotes, like - what? You don't think they're really a couple? You think they're secretly strangers, who are pretending to be a couple to win the show and hopefully a prestigious job out of it? Hmm...I mean, that's pretty low of people to do.....pretend they're a "couple." That IS the only reason you're so dead-set against them, right?

I never liked having a "couple" on the show from the get go. I think it's a cheap, low, reality-show ploy. But isn't Top Chef a reality show? Yes, but I felt that it had integrity. That it was about food, not personalities. I do think they are a couple in real life and I think that putting two chefs that are in relationship is a ploy to create drama where none should exist.

Plus it just made for too much kissing on the show. Bleech. There's just too much love overall in this group. What is this, Dr. Phil? Spleesh! I want people to battle it out for the title!

A birthday to remember

Well, it certainly will be a birthday to remember for JKS Wilder and I.

We are supposed to leave Friday morning and meet up in Orlando for a long weekend at Disneyworld. But she's flying American Airlines! I'm flying United, and so far so good.

Please pray that her flight is not affected or at least that she will still be able to arrive safely! Of all the possible things that could go wrong for this trip, this is not what I expected!!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My PLA photo

So this is me at the Upstart booth at PLA posing with cardboard cutouts of the three front runner presidential candidates. I'm supposed to be looking mad; unhappy with my choices.

I asked them why they didn't have a cutout of Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, or Stephen Colbert.

At least you have to admit my hair looks fantastic! I had some really good hair days while we were in Minneapolis.

What I did today

Okay, Maria, you want a post? Here's a post for you. It's called:
What I did today.

Sent the kids off to school with no arguments
Breakfast - fried egg, banana smoothie
Filled the car with gas at $3.49 a gallon -- ugh!!
Subscribed to two blogs:
k heinz designz
A myHT Fortress
Made new signs for computer workstations
Changed the backup tape
Gave the maintenance staff two new projects to work on
Reminded staff (again!) that they need to turn in their Costco checks
Admired the new lighting we had installed
Started creating an impromptu "April is National Poetry Month" display
Reminded staff that press releases are going out tomorrow
Worked with computer guys to troubleshoot CDROM problem
Searched through files to try to find details on staff shirts order (found it -- finally!)
Followed up on the bike rack grant
Downloaded (and subsequently posted) my PLA photo
Fielded a question about our online calendar system
Tested my solution to the print notification that staff are complaining about
Wrote up procedures for staff on how to toggle print notification on and off and posted them to the staff blog
Scheduled donation of used library furniture
LUNCH! - Started reading The Year of Endless Sorrows by Adam Rapp
Fielded more questions about the online calendar
Review online calendar to see what events are going on over the summer
Meeting to firm up food plans for National Library Week
More work on poetry display
SNACK!
Prepare materials for remote book drop
Sign up as sponsor for Rotary golf outing
Prepare puzzle piece for upcoming community display
Contacted SIRS regarding usage statistics discrepancy -- (turns out I have to re-do a whole year's worth of statistics for these databases -- ugh!!)
Recalculated SIRS usage statistics
Checked personal email
GO HOME - yea!
Dinner - a boring salad, but a yummy rice and bean burrito
Made the bed (yeah, that's right I made the bed at 6:30 pm)
Watched the Simpsons (twice)
Watched America's Funniest Home Videos
Put the kids to bed -- they both have bad colds so I made them go to bed early
Printed out labels for all the birthday cards I need to send (I'm sending out four cards and three of them are late)
Cursed out my phone -- all of a sudden today, Windows Media Player won't read the music on the storage card. Grrrrr.

Well, that's what I did today, so far. What follows is what I hope to do tonight before going to bed.

Check my work email (yes, I check my work email from home at odd hours of the day)
Get the birthday cards ready to mail
SNACK
Play Trauma Center : Second Opinion
Play Animal Crossing


Peace out!