The second day of our trip, we went to the Astronaut Hall of Fame and the War Birds Museum. I found all the astronaut stuff to be really cool, and there were plenty of simulators and interactive displays, so the kids were entertained as well. That's the best kind of learning, you know. They thought they were just playing, but now they can tell you about mission control and how to land a space shuttle.
(If I could find the mini-USB cable, I'd upload some pics for you to see. But that's what you got for reading an ADD blogger. Hundreds of great photos, not way to share even one. My kids are cute, and you'll just have to take my word for it. Maybe my husband will help me with that tonight, and I'll post pictures next.)
I'd like to say that my mother-in-law enjoyed the day, too; but I have no idea. Her tantrum wore her out, so she decided to stay in her hotel room all day. Before we left, she was searching for Xanax, Benadryl, and some other anti-depressant. She must have found them, because when we got back, she looked rested and acted like a normal person again. Well, semi-normal; she still refused to eat dinner with us. I think she did walk around the hotel and even wandered into neighboring hotels, though, just to look around. I guess when you're 80, maybe that's exciting enough.
The third day was Get On The Boat day. We could see the Disney Dream from the bridge as we approached, and the kids were thrilled. The MIL even looked pleased.
I've got to admit - Disney has got their act together. That concourse with thousands of people in it ran like a well-oiled machine. TSA should send their staff to be trained by Disney, so people would be okay with getting frisked at the airport because the TSA agents would just be too dang happy and friendly for passengers to get mad at them.
We signed in, signed up the kids for their activities, saw Mickey & Minnie, and got honest answers from staff about which play room to put the autistic 14-year old in. I appreciate that. Too many people act like a special-needs kid should either be treated like he's got the plague or like he's royalty. He's just a kid - treat him like any other kid, just one less mature than his actual age. There is a "clubhouse" for kids up to 11, one for 11-14, and one for 14-17. I expected to send him to the 11-14 room, but they told me he'd have to be allowed to come and go as he pleased, then they told me what would be in the younger kids' room that he might enjoy. They had computer games with pirate ship battles that he'd probably like. The staff was very gracious in letting me know that he was welcome in whichever clubhouse fit his needs best, and that they want every kid to have a great time while we're confident that he's safe.
So, being he gets lost on a walk around the block, but will happily play computer games all day, he got signed up for the same clubhouse as the three little kids. And it worked out great.
The kids each got a wristband that would be scanned as they went in and out of the clubhouse so that their computers always showed what room they were in and who signed them in and out. I like that. Everyone got a personalized "Key to the World" card that is the key card to the room as well as a charge card at any of the stores.
And that prompted the MIL's first hissy fit of the day. She didn't hear that kids couldn't buy stuff without their parent present. And since my kids are, apparently, wild hooligans who think they can do and have anything they want, she had a fit that "those kids don't need those cards because they'll charge hundreds of dollars to my account!" I told her I'd take the cards after we got on, but they would need them to get on and off the ship. She sneered. I ignored her.
For the record, the kids didn't ask for anything the whole trip. Even when we walked through the shop with the intention of buying one thing for each of them, they played with lots of stuff, got excited about lots of stuff, and all picked out ONE thing they really wanted. It was awesome hearing the 7 year old girl tell her 5 year old sister, "That's really pretty, but it costs a lot. Let's try and find something you'll like just as much that's a better deal." And they put everything they played with back on the shelves where they belonged. I was so proud!
We embarked, explored the ship, got fruity mixed drinks (then remembered to ask about the price - $10 - oops), and headed up for lunch. The waitstaff was amazingly friendly, and the food was delicious. Every employee's home country is on their name tag under their name. Mostly poor, Caribbean countries, with the occasional Brit or Canadian thrown in. The British & Canadians all looked like college students on summer break, while all the others looked like this was their full time adult job. I wondered if they left families behind because there wasn't work on their island.
The ship itself was a stunning art deco work of sculpture. Every tiny detail was looked after in the design. Simply gorgeous. Plus, it even had an art gallery. It was beautiful. I wondered if they pay their employees well, or if they're supposed to feel privileged to work for beans because they get to do it in such a nice place. Of course, Disney could pay them in magic beans.
They met Princess Tiana from The Princess & the Frog, Peter Pan, and Pluto. They checked out the clubhouse, which was amazing.
I almost hugged Tiana on the second day on the ship, because, after all day of trying to figure out foreign accents while trying to watch the kids and MIL interrupting complaining about the foreign accents and a bazillion other people laughing, talking, and yelling... Tiana is from Louisiana. And I don't know if the young lady playing Tiana was actually Southern, or if she just did the accent really well. But...
She said, "Hey, y'all! Are y'all havin' a good time?" The girls nodded yes and hugged her. And I said (perhaps too excitedly), "Aah, finally, an accent I can understand!" I almost hugged her. She laughed at me.
We got dressed for dinner (our bags were at our door when we got there), where the MIL complained that she didn't want to dress up. I told her that was fine, but we go to a casual church, so we don't get the opportunity to dress up often. So we were going to dress up. Just because I wanted to. She didn't have to.
So she put on a skirt and then headed to the restaurant.
Our servers introduced themselves - Palmer and Sweetie - and said they'd be our servers every night. They'd change restaurants with us, that way, they'd already know what kind of drinks and salad dressing and food allergies without us having to tell a different server every night. Palmer is a tall older African man, and Sweetie is a short Pacific Islander young lady. She smiled constantly, and my five year old son fell in love with her. At the buffet breakfasts & lunches, he asked where Sweetie was. Of course, they didn't know, and her real name was Angkhana, so they may not have even know the nickname she'd introduced herself to us with. But he kept searching for her. "Where's Sweetie? Do you know where Sweetie is? Have you seen Sweetie?" Adorable!
The walls and ceiling glowed to look like you were outside. The furniture looked like frilly garden furniture. The light fixtures looked like flowers, and they opened as the walls and ceiling shifted from blue to pink to purple, looking like sunset. And it didn't shift evenly- it changed slowly from one side of the room to the other like a real sunset. It was very cool.
And we were wiped out. So we took the kids to the clubhouse and went to see a play. It was Broadway-quality and had bits of The Lion King that was pretty badass. I never thought I'd say that about a musical, but it was! And now I really want to see The Lion King. I'll have to figure out a way to make that happen.
Then we were really wiped out, gathered up kids, and crashed.
I'll try to be less detailed in the next post, but since y'all don't comment (except Mary - thanks Mary!-), I don't know if this is too much or if it's good. I want you to enjoy what I write, so please give me some feedback!