Friday, September 27, 2013

Really Random Thoughts on Disney

I probably should have been writing these down somewhere throughout the week, but there wasn't really any time for that, so hopefully I can remember all of the random thoughts that ran through my head over the past eight-plus days...

- The allergy thing was a very interesting experience.  I've heard from multiple people how great Disney is with allergies, and I must admit that most of our experiences were good.  Of course, it was hard to tell if there was any cross-contamination since the guys were still working things out of their system, but as a whole it seems like people have had very good luck.  It's good to know that they can handle it.  Still, if I have any complaints, it's that a) I felt bad holding up the line waiting for the chef to come out and chat with us, so I do wish that they had a separate allergy line or something; and b) I wish they had a few more options.  Gluten-free rolls and bread make things a lot easier, but I think we only came across a couple places with gluten-free chicken tenders or other more exotic options.  We only came across three different dessert options--two different types of cookies and one type of brownie that was actually pretty awesome when heated.  But in comparison to the non-allergy options, it's pretty sad.  I do wish they'd mention other naturally gluten-free options (fruit cups, etc.), if they exist.  Next time I'll bring a crapload of other treats and keep the cookies and brownies to add some variety at home!

- Disney transportation was also an interesting experience.  It's hard for me to say if I would do it again given the choice.  When we went almost six years ago, we drove everywhere.  Sometimes it was a haul to get back to the parking lot, and I think parking was moderately expensive, but it was nice to have a direct path home when we were ready.  The buses were pretty much on schedule (every 20 minutes), and waiting wasn't that bad, but it always just seemed a little awkward.  We had to fold up the stroller, haul everyone and everything on, find seats, and sit there for 10-20 minutes, or longer if the bus had to go through the whole complex to pick up at other stops.  We were the first on and first off, so morning rides took forever and evening rides were shorter.  Rides at closing time were very crowded and awkward, particularly if a lot of the handicapped seating was taken up by scooters.  But it was reliable and simple and got the job done...and yes, it was free, so there's that.  Honestly, what I'd love to do is stay at a resort with monorail access instead!

- As much as I enjoy Disney, our next trip to Orlando may need to incorporate other things.  We need to do Universal Studios, and I really want to go to Legoland.  I'd also love to do the Disney waterparks someday, too.  It occurred to me that going to Disney was so much less complicated when I was a kid, because there were only two parks.  We went for five days, I think, and we had plenty of time in both parks to do everything we wanted to.  Now, if you go for a week like we did, you might be able to squeeze in enough time at every park, but you either have to pick and choose your activities, or you'll exhaust yourself trying to spend time at parks every day just to fit it all in.  It's a lot, especially with kids.  I also decided that I'd probably rather do a couple more individual days in parks than do less days with a park hopper.  I'd rather have the option of spreading things out than having to cram everything (including transportation between parks) into a set number of days.  Even though the option is great for picking where you want to eat, etc., for us I just don't think it makes sense.

- I was amazed at how many people had babies smaller than Carter.  In particular, I was really surprised by how many people JUST had a baby smaller than Carter.  Why bother?  Either go alone or wait until the baby can appreciate it.  It just seems like a hassle because you can't ride thrill rides together since one person always has to hold the baby.  I was also surprised at how many people had taken their kids out of school.  I mean, we did, but we didn't have much of a choice given the long history of this trip.  And while there isn't a much better trip to take your kids out for, I was still surprised.  I, myself, missed a few days of school when I went when I was nine, but at least we went during a week with a couple days off for teacher conferences or something like that.  And while we're at it, I was surprised at how many older couples were there without grandkids!  Kids at heart, I guess!

- The sheer amount of money spent on Disney trips is nuts.  From the rooms to the food to the souvenirs, it's crazy.  We kept things very simple and even though we weren't paying for most of this, it was still enough to give us pause at times.  There are some great values in the midst of it (like the $4 difference for a 3x bigger stuffed animal or the free refill cups we got with our dining package for when we were at the resort).  But the focus on shopping and the crazy amount of merchandise available is shocking at times.  To see all of the little girls in their princess dresses and knowing they're probably asking for everything under the sun (not because they're greedy, but because it's all that cool) boggles the mind a bit.  What a cash cow.  Interestingly, I think I'm losing touch with my inner child.  Normally when I go on trips, I think about what the younger version of me would have wanted as a souvenir.  This time I had a hard time deciding--not only about the younger me, but for the grown-up me, as well.  When I was nine I got a couple vinyl character figures, a set of German animal dolls (cats, I think), and probably one or two other little things.  Last time I don't think I got much, though on that trip we were more focused on Christmas gifts for our nieces and nephews.  My photos were my souvenir!  This time I had a gift card to work with from my birthday last year, but I had a hard time deciding.  In the end I did get a shirt (cute half-sleeve sporty looking shirt with Mickey and an old-school Disney World logo on the front), but I ended up sharing my card with Carter to buy his stuffed Figment (per my example above, the one I got was three times the size of the smaller one but only cost four bucks more.  Go figure.).  Jacob ended up with a shirt, his pirate stuff, Lego minifigures, and the bear puppet.  A lot, yes, but we did have a gift card for us to use as a family as well, so much of it went toward that.  Craig didn't get anything.  But all of that stuff and we still had a hard time deciding.  I guess we're just not those kind of Disney people?  We like it, but don't feel compelled to advertise it all the time via clothes, bags, kitchen gear, etc.? 

- The weather...ugh.  Part of the reason we didn't go in the middle of summer before Jacob started school was because we knew the weather would be too hot for all of us.  Craig's tolerance of hot weather is almost nil, and between Jacob and Carter I wasn't sure who would be more miserable.  I'm not a fan either, but I'd probably sacrifice my well-being just to make the best of things.  It was hot and humid every day--high 80s the whole week.  Most days had at least a chance of thunderstorms, but it only rained on us three days...and only one day where it dramatically impacted the day.  It was exhausting and pretty gross most of the time.  Lots of sweat and sunscreen, for sure.  I'd definitely aim for October through April or so for any future visits.  But the last minute suggestion by a co-worker of mine to bring ponchos proved fruitful.  I wasn't able to get the cheapest ponchos at Walmart (they were sold out) but the ones we got were pretty nice and should serve us well in the future.  And Jacob finally got to use the Batman one my mom gave him a while back for something.  It saved us a few bucks, anyway.  In my past trips to Disney we only had one or two brief encounters with rain, so this was definitely a switch.  We survived, though. 

-  As a whole, the trip was...an adventure.  We're grateful to Craig's parents for sending us even though they couldn't go.  It was a lovely resort and it was nice to feel pampered with such a great trip.  I just desperately wish Jacob would have been more into it.  I wish he could have behaved and gotten a little more excited, but I guess that wasn't his thing this time.  Carter wasn't old enough to appreciate it, but I'm grateful he was such a good little boy.  And I loved how much joy his smiles brought to the people all around us, everywhere we went.  All in all, it was a great trip and I'm hoping the good memories stick out and leave the bad memories behind.  It's always fun to get away and see new things, particularly in a place as fun and beautiful as Disney.  It was stressful a lot of the time, but things would have been stressful at home, too, so I guess being able to get away for a bit and be frustrated somewhere else probably helped, even though the weird schedules might have made things worse.  But still...it was a whirlwind week and we did sneak out some fun, so I'm glad we had the opportunity. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Florida - Days 6 & 7 - Wrapping it Up

Sunday was another planned rest day.  We had four parks to visit and six full days there, so we had to plan a couple rest days, both for our sanity and to fill the time.  We headed right to the pool at 10am because we found out on our last pool day that every morning they gather up a bunch of kids who masquerade as pirates to storm the waterslide and battle the cast member who's defending it (with an inflatable bat).  The kids get a bandanna to keep, as well as a balloon sword.  Once the kids beat the cast member, the waterslide is officially open for the day and the pirate flag flies proudly at the top.  It was pretty cute.  We were apparently told the wrong place to meet, though, because a group of kids came over to where we had been, and with very little warning another cast member led them over to the slide.  We had to rush to get Jacob's bandanna on, and eventually he caught up with them for the end of the battle...
He's the last kid on the right...notice the two cast members on the left, one of whom has been conquered, and the other is holding the flag
While Jacob was debating riding the slide (after not liking it the first day), I took yet another gratuitous happy shot of Carter.  The kid is so darn smiley...

Can you see his tiny little bottom teeth now?  So cute!
For the record, this kid was seriously making people smile all over Disney the entire time we were there.  Everywhere we went he was grinning at people and making them giggle.  I can't even tell you how many random strangers told us how cute he was or made faces back at him.  Heck, sometimes I'd catch him looking at people who weren't even looking at him, almost trying to capture their attention.  You ever hear of the experiment where babies weren't given any engagement at all from their caregivers and they died, basically because we all need human connection and affection?  The way he seems to crave attention like that reminded me of that study.  We give him plenty, believe me, and I guess he just wants more!  I guess he already knows that the world is a better place with smiling people!

Back from his battle, here is Jacob wielding his sword...

Eventually Jacob tried the waterslide again, and he decided he loved it!  And so began a day of watersliding.  Between the two of us we probably accompanied him up there a couple dozen times.  It was more tiring than you'd think, but it was fun nonetheless!  I'm glad he finally found something he loved, and it was nice to have a happy-go-lucky kid for a change, even if it was interspersed with a few off-moments.
Coming down the slide!
There was a bridge over the pool and this was the view from the top of it, looking at the waterslide. 
Notice the Mickey ears at the end of the slide!
Here's the view from another angle, looking toward the lighthouse (which was actually a sauna)...

And here's Pirate Jacob trying to be fierce but cracking a smile nonetheless...

We went to Downtown Disney later in the day for lunch, and had our first bit of trouble with the gluten-free situation.  We couldn't find a good quick service place (for our meal plan), so we ended up eating at a sit-down place inside a hip bowling alley, mostly because the gluten-free items were clearly labeled on the menu.  We had to pay for it (we used part of a Disney gift card we had), but the food was good and we had to eat!  While we were in there, it started to rain.  We couldn't take the boat back to our resort, so we had to navigate back to the buses (a little less direct, but not bad) and utilize our ponchos.  We pretty much just tried to relax for the rest of the day.  We did get in an evening swim (which I promised to Jacob when we left the pool earlier in the day) when the rain stopped, then grabbed rented a movie from the community center, played some pool, and enjoyed our dinner back in our room with the movie. 

The next day was our last full day, and we were spending it back at EPCOT.  The weather wasn't looking good, so we tried to get an early start and hit up as much of the outdoor stuff in the World Showcase as possible.  We started on the opposite side from where we were the other day.  We saw Mexico...     
Last time I had a hard time taking a good picture in the pyramid...this time, I like the result!
...and then headed to Norway, where the boys rode on Maelstrom, a fun little boat ride full of Vikings. 


We also had a photo op in the store there...

 
We wandered through China...

And stopped into Germany...
...though I was disappointed by a few things.  First, last time we were there they had a bunch of Playmobil toys, which Jacob loves, and this time there were none.  Second, seeing as Oktoberfest had officially started in Germany (for real), I was a little bummed by the lack of Oktoberfest festivities there.  I was actually hoping they'd have some shirts like I've eyed up online that look like a German dirndl dress top.  But no luck.

We eventually got back to the American Experience, where we left off last time, and had lunch at the same restaurant where we'd had the good gluten-free experience the first time.  While we were there, it started to rain.  Hard.  And when I checked the radar, there was no end in sight.  We gave it a little bit after lunch and some shopping to see if it was going to let up at all, but eventually surmised that we had to keep going.  We went as quickly as we could between countries, stopping at most of them to shop and dry off a bit.  It was really miserable, even with ponchos.  We actually had to buy one more (darn it) because it was raining too hard for the stroller to keep up with.  We wanted to keep Carter dry, and in the end it was hugely helpful for keeping everything else dry, since later on we had to leave the stroller parked out in the rain to go to other pavilions. 

The rain was really miserable, and we ended up stopping at Journey into Imagination briefly so I could feed Carter and Jacob could play in the interactive play area a bit.  I also wanted to look into buying a stuffed Figment (the purple dragon that's the mascot for that pavilion) because he was my favorite as a kid and I figured it might be a fun one for Carter, since he can't really pick his own.  I did my research but opted to buy one later at another store.  Jacob, by the way, ended up with this giant bear that's also a hand puppet, which we bought at the Canadian pavilion.  He loved it and it was surprisingly cheap.  The last thing he needed was another animal, but it was pretty cool and we dodged a bullet considering some of the other stuff he wanted and didn't get because he insisted on the bear!

We ended up skipping The Land completely, which was sad because it's the home of my favorite ride there, Soarin'.  It was a lifesaver on my last trip, since it gave me the sensation of a roller coaster without the body jarring issues, but the long wait and late Fast Pass made it a no-go.  We sprinted (as best we could) to The Seas, since I knew it would provide a bunch of entertainment indoors, which would hopefully allow the rain to pass.  We started out with a ride in a clamshell with a cool adaptation of Finding Nemo (including where they project the movie characters in real tanks!).  After the ride there are some real fish to look at...
Gotta love jellyfish!
...and then a stop at Turtle Talk with Crush, the character from Finding Nemo.  I loved this when we did it the last time we were there.  An animated Crush comes on the screen and interacts with the crowd.  It's pretty convincing, since he uses names, sees shirt colors, etc., and talks in the same Australian accent as the movie character. 
Crush is in the center of the screen, and the kids are on the floor in front.  Notice the microphone in the upper right :)
Jacob was not really amused.  I guess he's jaded by years of knowing that mascots aren't real.  He knew it was fake, but honestly, I wish he would have at least been impressed by the technology!

Afterward we saw manatees...
Notice the head of lettuce this one is eating!
And a really ugly fish...
He's so creepy, isn't he?
And a cool starfish...

And I got a really great picture of some clownfish!

After we had checked out as much fish as we could handle, we headed back out into the rain, which was still going strong.  We dashed across to the next building, which ended up having video games in it, and Jacob and Craig played those for a while.  We eventually dashed across to another interactive area that was connected to the restaurant where we wanted to eat.  By the time we were most of the way through dinner, the rain had let up quite a bit. 
Cloudy and damp at dusk, but the fountains looked pretty
After doing some shopping, we headed back out.  We dodged more rain as we left (but nothing like earlier!), and I caught this picture of Spaceship Earth. Similar to my picture from the other day, but I liked how the palm trees were silhouetted and the contrast against the night sky.  The way the light reflects off the panels at different angles is pretty cool, too.
 
 
It had definitely been a long week, and while I hated to leave "paradise", I knew that we were all exhausted and needed to get back to a schedule.  I'd say "back to normal", except the normal we were coming back to wasn't our normal at all, for so many reasons.  Still, coming home was probably more of a relief than it usually is after a vacation like this, but I'd like to think we made a few good memories along the way, even if most of the trip was a challenge.
 
Our trip home was pretty uneventful.  Our flight was at a really great time, so we had enough time to pack up, grab some breakfast, and even use up the rest of our meal plan snack allotment to buy snacks for the road from the resort store.  We checked our baggage at the hotel, hopped on a bus to the airport, had an easy enough time at security (but I'll say it again--going through security with two kids is tough!), tried to find some food for lunch (gluten-free was hard with the options we had), and got on the plane a little before 2pm.  Jacob slept for an hour, and Carter slept for a little longer than that after some initial fussing (and Craig and I joined the party for a bit as well), and then we managed to get Jacob to do a little homework before Carter needed to eat.  It wasn't bad, but I'm not too eager to fly with kids again anytime soon.  It was a relief to get home, though we rushed right out to Wegmans to buy some gluten-free foods in preparation for Jacob's lunch today.  We ended up going out to eat at Chili's, which a random celiac at the resort had suggested.  Craig may have had some cross-contamination since he wasn't feeling great last night, but it had been a long week so it's hard to tell.  Jacob and I also had another difficult run-in last night when he wouldn't go to bed.  Suffice it to say it's been a crazy week and getting back to work with all of this stuff floating around in my head has been tough.  Also, we'll probably have to have the guys back off the gluten-free diet for their testing.  Jacob's GI appointment is next Thursday.  We haven't really seen much change, so I guess it's not a big deal, but it's just so hard to manage right now that we're grasping at straws for what might help in the meantime.  I guess it'll give me a chance to use up some of the gluten-filled items in the pantry, right?
 
I'll have a wrap-up on my final thoughts on the trip soon.  Hope you enjoyed the pictures, at least!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Florida - Day 5 - Double Duty

Saturday was planned as Animal Kingdom day, and we knew that portion would end early because the park closed at 6pm.  We figured we could get a head start on EPCOT, if nothing else, since that tends to be our favorite park.  We woke up to yet another hot, steamy day, and headed out as early as we could...which still wasn't that early.  We tended to sleep in a lot on this trip--well, relative to what we do on work days and as best we could with two kids.  Usually one or the other was up by about 7:30 at the latest.  I neglected to mention that our sleeping arrangements were a king-sized bed and the pack and play in the bedroom, and a pull out chair and couch in the living room.  In theory Jacob would sleep in one of the pullouts and we'd share the bed, but some nights Jacob freaked out about being alone so Craig slept next to him--half on an ottoman--because he never bothered to figure out the pull-out couch and it was a hassle to move him into the bed.  That, and Jacob never wanted to sleep anywhere near me.  Ugh.  We made it through, though, and Craig and I even got some time together in the king-sized bed. 

Anyway...Animal Kingdom.  There's not a whole lot to Animal Kingdom.  Well, not really...there's a lot there if you're into the various activities, but honestly, we've never been into most of it.  We skip most of the shows.  I pretty much figured we'd do the safari, walk through some animal exhibits, and I'd hit up Expedition Everest (another pregnancy no-no).  And that's pretty much how it played out.

We saw some parrots first thing...
 ...and wandered through Africa to pick up a Fast Pass for the Kilimanjaro Safari, for after lunch.  We decided that morning to attempt the gluten-free diet for the day, just because Jacob's behavior was getting challenging and we needed to maintain our sanity, as well.  I did a little research and determined that a pizza place in the park would be a good option.  We were obviously new at this thing, but just like all of the online postings said, a chef came out to chat about our options, took the order, and that was that.  The boys had gluten-free pizzas and gluten-free desserts.  Not quite the same as my gluten-filled meal, but it looked good nonetheless. 

After lunch we went to the safari.  We saw a lot of animals, and even though I thought that would be one of the cooler things for Jacob that day, he managed to fall asleep in the middle of it.  Must have been the bumpy truck ride.  It's a little hard to get pictures from a moving truck on a bumpy road, but I did what I could...
Giraffes...including a baby!

Elephants...and another baby!

Addaxes...love those horns!
 We saw plenty of other animals, too...hippos, crocodiles, zebras, rhinos, ostriches, pelicans, monkeys, birds, etc., but those were the best pictures I could get. 

By the time we were off that ride, Jacob was extra brutal--hard to wake up, perpetually tired, and cranky.  Still, we managed to see more animals, play some drums...

...see a leaf man...
That is a real guy on stilts!
 ...and catch a couple great glimpses of the Tree of Life in the center of the park...

On one of the walk-through exhibits, I caught this picture of a komodo dragon sticking out its tongue!

Eventually it was time to head to Expedition Everest!

The wait was very short, thank goodness, and it was a great ride.  It was fun, had some unexpected surprises, and provided a nice breeze on a very hot day.  A long awaited ride, for sure.  That was the one whose screams elicited a Pavlovian response from me the last time we were here.  I desperately wanted to ride!

It was honestly hard to enjoy much of anything that day because Jacob was so needy and Craig was hot and tired.  Carter and I weren't much better, but it was definitely a challenge to spend much time admiring the animals or waiting for anything.  Still, we had a refreshing frozen lemonade snack when we made it to Dinoland U.S.A., and Jacob seemed to perk up a bit.  I got to go on another ride I missed out on last time--Primeval Whirl, a spinning wild mouse coaster--which was OK.  Not as exciting as I'd hoped, but nice to check another off the list...

Happily, after that Jacob decided he wanted to go on a ride with me.  This one was much like Dumbo, just with triceratops cars instead. 

He loved it, thankfully, and we had a few pleasant moments of fun without him hitting or being extra obnoxious.  Afterward we walked to an area with a dinosaur to climb on, and Jacob made friends with a little girl who was playing, too.  It was cute to watch.  He had a blast climbing, and not only did I get this nice picture of the boys...

...but Craig got in on the fun and requested this shot...
The dinosaur ate his head!
 We headed out of the park a little before closing time, and hopped on a bus directly to EPCOT.  As I said, it's our favorite park, and we decided to get some of the World Showcase done, to lessen the load for Monday's return trip (and good thing, since Monday was a bit of a washout).

I love how you're greeted by Spaceship Earth immediately upon entering.  It's just a cool symbol, you know?

We headed over to Canada, mostly because we knew we wanted to do some shopping there (based on past experience)...

And we passed by Japan and France along the walk, and checked out the U.K. as well. 
United Kingdom just looks so quaint!
We ended up eating dinner at the American pavilion, where I had read the restaurant was good for gluten-free options.  Sure enough, it was.  We had a great meal there before heading back toward the front of the park for Illuminations, their night show.  When we got near to where we wanted to be, we killed some time in the stores.  I couldn't resist taking this shot...

We headed back out for the show, which was pretty cool.  It was a combination of lasers, fireworks, and images projected on a giant globe in the middle of the lake.  It was hard to capture a picture, but this was one of the cooler ones...

Jacob wasn't really a fan of the fireworks, but Carter--despite a couple iffy moments--took it like a champ.  We headed our amidst the throngs of people leaving at closing time, and I snapped this shot on the way out...

It was a late night, but it was nice to get so much done in one day, and know there was no pressure to stay late on Monday.  Late nights are a calculated risk, but this one panned out as much as any could on this trip, I suppose.  The next day was an "off" day again, so we figured any fallout could be dealt with reasonably well.  Questionable, I suppose, but as always...we managed.  Stay tuned for the recap...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Florida - Day 4 - Day of "Rest"

Our fourth day here was pre-planned to be a "rest" day at the resort.  Admittedly, I'm not a great rester while on vacation.  Minus kids I'd probably be happy to take a nap or lay by the pool for a few hours, at least, but particularly with kids, I find it hard to stay in one place for too long.  I feel like if I really wanted to lay around, I could do that at home.  When I'm somewhere cool, I'd rather be doing something cool.  And with kids, it's hard to let them get too idle without them getting into trouble.  So, our rest day was inevitably going to be busy, but without a forced long day at the parks, we figured it'd be a little easier. 

We started the day with a little pool time.  The pool here is really nice and has an awesome waterslide--it's a sandcastle with a Mickey head where the slide heads into the pool. 

It all feels very fancy and tropical with all the palm trees and Key West-ish music (think Jimmy Buffett, steel drums, reggae, etc.), and the pool felt great with all the heat we've had (have I mentioned it's been at least high 80s and humid every day?).  I convinced a very reluctant Jacob to go down the waterslide with me, because I was sure he would love it, but no...no, he did not.  Or at least, at that point he wouldn't admit it.  So, we took turns in the pool to accommodate a sleeping Carter, who woke up during my shift with him.  Check out the cool swim gear I scored on clearance for him at Babies 'R' Us a few weeks ago...
Perfect, eh?
Jacob decided he wanted to play in the sand, so Craig took a shift over there with him...

...and Carter and I headed to the kiddie pool to splash around a bit.  Eventually it was about time for all of us to eat.  We headed back to the room to clean up, and then hopped on a boat from our resort to Downtown Disney.  It seemed like a much simpler process than the buses, where you have to wait for the right one and go to a bunch of stops.  The boat takes a 12 minute trip down a canal, directly to Downtown Disney.  Not too shabby.  The trip goes past a couple other resorts and a golf course before popping out into the lake that Downtown Disney is adjacent to. 
Golf course along the way, with the observation balloon in the distance, just before coming out into the lake
We wandered through the property and shopped a bit.  Jacob was exhausted and fell asleep in the middle of it, so we tried to toss him into the stroller and carry Carter in the Bjorn, which went reasonably well.  The heat has been an issue, and getting Jacob to nap is no picnic...not only because he'll fight going down if you purposely try to make him nap, but because he'll also want to stay up late that night.  Ugh.

Downtown Disney is a pleasant combination of festive and commercial, if that makes any sense.  It's very obviously a cash cow, but I enjoy the ambiance and evenings are pretty cool with live entertainment around every corner. 

The candy store was making special candy apples (seriously, they're about $10), and it was really cool to watch. 
Notice the Mickey ears...marshmallows!  The red is sugar!
The Lego Store sculptures were totally different from our last visit, with the exception of the dragon in the lake.  This time there was a scene from the end of Toy Story, where Buzz and Woody rocket themselves back to Andy's car... 

And two Snow White ones...


...along with a classic Lego knight and dragon...

I've taken a lot of random smiley Carter pics this week when we've been hanging out during bathroom breaks or rides.  Here's a gratuitous happy boy shot...

We're still on the hunt for good souvenirs, so we've done a decent amount of shopping the last few days, starting with a toy store that had a Mr. Potato Head building station.  Jacob was really proud of his boy and girl pirates.

He's also developed a bit of a crush on Cinderella.  Not only did he choose Cinderella 2 as one of our movies to rent, but he's also been eyeing up this rather girly Cinderella doll thing that also has a prince in it.  Jury's still out on how comfortable I feel letting him get it.  But we did totally let him take a picture with Cinderella outside another store...

Craig and Jacob built Lego guys at the Lego store (and I even got to make one!).  Jacob and I also got our picture with Woody and Buzz.  What you can't see here is Carter screaming his head off while we waited our turn.

It ended up being a much later night than anticipated, but it was a gorgeous night and the boatride back was peaceful.  Back on dry land I took this shot of the full moon, which gives you a little idea of the blissful evening that I wanted to remember...

We were still dealing with a lot of Jacob issues, but made the decision to go against doctor's orders and try to go gluten-free while we're here.  His behavior was so bad that we felt like we had to do something.  I guess the good news is that at least we'll see how he does off of it a few days.  They're really great about allergies here, for the most part, so I guess it's a good place for this to happen, but it's definitely hard to manage when options are limited.  Still, it was nice to get out of the resort at our own pace and enjoy a leisurely stroll on a nice night. 

Four days down, four days left...up next, Animal Kingdom!