Brighid and Anna First Annual Mother/Daughter Trip to Disney World Part Three

We are now at Friday, February 8th.  Some crazy woman (oh right, that was me) booked us spa appointments for 8 AM the night after we went to the Pirate/Princess party.  We are up at 6, since we have to be at the spa 15 minutes early, and we head to the shower, get dressed, and head out the door.  Look how quickly we got lazy – now that we have the truck from the in-laws, we drive over to the spa!

At the front desk, we check in, and the girl takes us down to the women’s locker room, shows us where the robes and slippers are, and tells us where to get changed.  She then invites us to go up to the lounge, where they have tea, ice water, fruit, and mints.  Brighid and I change very quickly and put our stuff in a locker.  We ooohhh and aaaahhh over the locker with Minnie’s things in it – so cute! – then we head up to the lounge.  Walking in these slippers is not easy.  The smalls are too small for my feet, and the mediums are just big enough that they want to slip off.

I want to take a short detour here and say that I did not see any accomodations for plus sized women.  The robes were one size fits all, and while I did fit, I know that 4 months ago, I would NOT have fit.  This is not to say that they do not have larger robes somewhere, and I should have taken the time to ask for them, but they were certainly not out anywhere that you could grab them.

After a long enough period of time in the lounge for me to grab a cup of ice water and Brighid to eat a banana, we are invited into the room where we will have our manicures and pedicures.  Conchita is my technician and Ana is Brighid’s.  Let me tell you, they were AWESOME!   They were super nice, and incredibly friendly, and we had a really nice time chatting with them.  I don’t think I’ve had a manicure since I got married (okay, maybe I have, but I can’t remember them), and it was so nice and relaxing, and my nails turned out looking really good.  Then it was time for our pedicures.  I have NEVER had a pedicure, and I learned a valuable lesson.  Do not shave your legs the day of your pedicure.  Apparently, they don’t like to exfoliate your legs after you’ve shaved.  Conchita did do my exfoliation, but she was very gentle. 

The smells during the pedicure make you SO hungry!   They did a peppermint pedicure, and the scrub they use to exfoliate is a maple sugar scrub.  I made the comment to Conchita that it was like sitting down to a breakfast of Candy Cane pancakes.  The music is soothing, and the chairs that you sit in to have your pedicure vibrate, so you really can relax.  Totally loved it.  Totally have to hit the lottery so I can do it more often.

After the really relaxing morning, we headed over to the Polynesian for lunch at Kona Cafe.  I’m not crazy about the atmosphere at this restaurant, but I do love the seafood chowder, and everything else everyone else has ordered, they’ve really enjoyed.  We laughed and had a great time at lunch, and I really hope it was a small glimpse into how my relationship with my daughter will be as she gets older.  I had a great time with her. 

Oh, and a little tip about parking at the Poly.  Again, chalk this up to the fact that I am geographically challenged, but if you can’t make up your   mind which row you want to choose to park in, you will find yourself with no option but to leave the parking lot and come back through security to start over.  And when   you do that, the smart alec security guard will say something to you like, “Your twin sister just pulled through here a minute ago.”   Then your teenage daughter laughs at you and calls you names.  Of course, you can threaten not to feed her, but she is laughing so hard at the fact that you just tried to make the Kona Cafe a drive through, she will not notice she has not eaten until later, and you will eventually have to feed her or risk going to prison for child neglect.

We tried to decide what to do during our Kona lunch, and it seemed like a movie was a good plan, especially since Brighid wanted to do dinner at Raglan Road.  We looked up on our wonderful Smart Phone (thank you, dear, for the wonderful piece of technology) the movie schedule for Pleasure Island, and we decided to play it by ear.  There were a few movies playing in the next hour or two, so we figured we would just see whichever one was closest to starting when we got there.

As it turned out, one of the movies I have been anxious to see was starting in about 20 minutes when we arrived.  We bought out tickets for The Pursuit of Happyness, and headed in, where Brighid got a small popcorn.  How someone in a size 0 jeans has room for a bag of popcorn after the lunch AND dessert she just ate is amazing to me.  We wait the 20 minutes until showtime chatting and having a nice time.  The movie was good, but not great, and we had been expecting great.

We are done at the movies about 5 o’clock, and our ADR at Raglan Road is at 8:15, because Brighid really wants to see the Irish entertainment.  Brighid forgets that I am an old woman with three children, and as much as I WANT to make sure she gets to stay for the entertainment, which starts at 9, there is no way I will be able to keep my head up that late.  She is a bit disappointed, but we head over to Raglan Road and take a table outside.  We meet Philip, our waiter, and this is probably our best meal of the trip – not so much for the food, but Philip was phenomenal.  He spent lots of time chatting with us until they got really busy, but even when the place was packed, he still kept coming back, making jokes, and chatting as much as he could.  Ask for Philip next time you check out Raglan Road.  He was awesome.

Dinner goes until about 7:15, and we decide to head back to SSR and check out some DVDs.  We’ll get all cozy in our jammies and watch the movies.  We pick up some pretzels and cream cheese to snack on, and we are in the room, in our jammies, about 8 o’clock.  About 8:20, I wake up to see Liam Neeson has been killed, and Leonardo DiCaprio is now all grown up and siding with Daniel Day Lewis.  When did this happen?   Obviously, not even the appeal of all those cutie patooties in one film could help me stay awake, so I head into the bedroom and leave Brighid to watch the movie.  I wake up again about an hour later, and Brighid is asleep too.  Well, she never claimed to be a Leo fan.

This is the kind of day I was hoping to have on vacation.  We had two really nice meals, with lots of laughing and joking and sharing stuff.  We were relaxed and having a good time everywhere we went.  We met a super nice CM in Philip, and saw a movie that no way in this lifetime my husband would have gone to see with me.  This is what the mother daughter trip was all about. 

Brighid and Anna First Annual Mother/Daughter Trip to Disney World Part Two

It is now Thursday, February 8th.  We fell asleep pretty early last night after LOST, so we are up and out the door at about 7:30.  We have never used Disney bus transportation before, and we think we may have to until we can catch up with my in-laws to borrow their car, but we have planned today as kind of a quiet day, since we are going to the Pirate/Princess party at the Magic Kingdom tonight.  We go to Artists’ Palette and order breakfast.  Brighid eyes the Mickey waffles from way at the back of the line, and we watch carefully as everyone in front of us orders the Mickey waffles for themselves, their children, their grandmother back home, and the starving children of Ethiopia.  But, as luck would have it, just as it is Brighid’s turn to order, the god of waffledom has shined his golden goodness upon her and a new batch of hot Mickey waffles appears in the warming tray.  Waffles with bacon it is 🙂   Me on the other hand, destined to be forever without that waffley goodness due to my gastric bypass surgery, orders the children’s breakfast plate.  Can I just tell you, they make these children’s breakfast plates for some very hungry children!   I got a heaping mound of scrambled eggs, two large sausage links (the normal platter was one link and one bacon strip, but I know I can’t eat bacon, and when I asked for them not to add it, the lady kindly substituted another sausage link), and a nice bunch of grapes.  If you are not one of those people who can go to breakfast and eat the whole Rooty Tootie Fresh and Fruity for yourself, for less than $4.00, the kids breakfast options at WDW are GREAT!

 I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this before in any other post I have made, but I am geographically challenged.  I am grateful to find my way out of bed and into the bathroom each morning.  So you should know that having successfully gotten to Artists’ Palette from our room in the Carousel section of SSR was quite a feat and I was so proud of myself!   Then we had to find our way back.  In our defense, a bit of fog rolled in while we were at breakfast.  And we were delerious from the huge amounts of food we had just consumed.  And we were giddy with excitement at being on our first mother/daughter trip.  And, okay, we’re just darned stupid when it comes to directions.  When we reach Congress Park, we realize we’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy, and a little panic sets in when we realize we have to find our way back to the other side of the resort!   Brighid blames me because I followed her when she said go right and I thought it was left, and I blame her because she is looking for the gorgeous courtyard view we had as a way to find our building.  Of course that gorgeous courtyard view is a little different from 3 stories up.

We finally figure out that, much like Hansel and Gretel in stories of old, we can follow a trail of something to help us get back to our room.  But what could we possibly follow?   We did not leave a trail of breadcrumbs or small pebbles, which would have been smart.  There is, however, a trail of SOMETHING that will help us find our way back.  Our fine feathered friends, Donald and Daisy, apparently DID find a trail of breadcrumbs to follow at some point this morning, because we were fortunate enough to be able to find our way back to our building by following piles of, well, how to put this delicately (although I did warn you in Part One of this report it was not for the squeamish), duckie doo-doo.  Yes, friends, there were quite abundant piles of duck excrement in the area of The Carousel section of SSR, and once we found the trail of small dung hills, we found our room 🙂   Yay for the ducks (and whomever it was that fed them enough delicious breadcrumbs that enabled them to leave that lengthy trail!).

Once we are back at the room, we naturally decide we need to go out.  Lunch at Downtown Disney is the ultimate goal today, and I am on the fence about whether or not I want to buy a pair of Disney Crocs, so we plan to do a little shopping.  Brighid also needs something to wear for the Pirate/Princess party, and I feel confident we will find something there, even though she is 15, difficult to shop with, not prone to liking anything I might suggest, 15, hard to please, the kind of person who looks in 50 stores only to go back to the first thing she saw, and, did I mention, 15?   We also have to catch up with the in-laws today, who are graciously lending us a car so that we can head off of Disney property (I know, blasphemy!).  We phone the in-laws, and unfortunately, wake them up (sorry, Mom!).  We tell them we will talk to them later in the day when they have woken up, and we head out to DTD.  Our first stop is Basin, and usually, I love wandering around here, sniffing soaps, washing my hands, testing lotions – you get the idea.  But I guess because we were just here last week and I still have everything I need in the way of soap following our November trip, I don’t find anything I like and we are out of the store in record time.

After Basin, we go to the World of Disney.  Can’t you just get lost in that store?   Oh, and actually, I do.  Or Brighid does.  Or at least we get separated.  I am looking at the Crocs, admiring them, considering which color I like, and Brighid apparently gets sucked into a tractor beam and disappears somewhere in the great beyond – or at least into another area of the store that sells stuff more interesting than Crocs.  I wander around aimlessly for about 10 minutes without finding her, and then I head back to the Crocs display, figuring she will eventually be returned to her home planet in the exact spot from where the aliens abducted her.  Sure enough, after another 5 minute wait, Brighid reappears, not looking like she has suffered from any kind of unusual alien experiments, and we wander around a bit more.  We find a shirt she really likes in the men’s department, but they only have it in XL and XXL.  We ask a CM if they have more somewhere else, and they check around to find out that no, the only shirt in the Western hemisphere Brighid actually WANTS to wear tonight does not come in a size closer to her size (which is a women’s size 2).  We consider purchasing the men’s large, but fears of her tripping over it as we walk around the park discourage the purchase, and we press on, back past the Crocs that I have not yet decided to buy.  FINALLY, after months of searching (okay, it was more like an hour, but it felt like months), we find a khaki colored t-shirt with black fuzzy designs on the front that says “Dead Men Tell No Tales”.  But, of course, it’s a t-shirt, and it’s going to be chilly tonight.  Now we have to find a shirt she can wear under the t-shirt.  God help me.  After not quite a decade, we find a complimentary color long sleeved thermal shirt with Mickey on the front of it, but since she is wearing it under the Pirate shirt, no one will see it’s a Micky shirt.  She is happy with her purchases, but she becomes absolutely ecstatic when she finds a rhinestone encrusted tiara with a skull and crossbones in the center.  Her outfit for the evening is complete.

We leave the store – without the Crocs, I might add – and it is definitely time to check out the Earl of Sandwich for some lunch.  Brighid orders her favorite – the Ultimate Grilled Cheese sandwich (adventurous, huh?) with no tomato.  I ask if they have any other soup besides the tomato, praying as I ask that they will say “Yes, our fabulously wonderful, incredibly delicious, so good it will make you wanna slap yo’ momma chicken with rice soup”.  Guess what?   Except for the slapping my mother part, they DO say they have the chicken rice soup!   Brighid orders the Earl Grey lemonade and we go sit at a table outside, where we enjoy  a great meal with gorgeous weather!

We hit a few of the other shops before we make our way to DTD Westside, where Brighid picks up a CD of some Irish rock band.  We finally get back in touch with the in-laws, and it seems we have gotten our signals crossed and they were expecting to eat lunch with us.  When they arrive, we head back over to the Marketplace so they can get sandwiches at the Earl of Sandwich, and Brighid enjoys another cup of the Earl Grey lemonade.  When lunch is over, we drive back to Poinciana to drop them off, and we head back to the hotel to get ready for the party. 

This is a fun event, we ride everything with no wait at all, and the highlight of the evening is when Brighid gets to meet himself, Captain Jack Sparrow, up close and personal.  He is quite the charmer, and she it totally smitten.  He asks her how old she is, and when she says 15, he promptly backs away 10 feet and says he will take the photo from that distance LOL.  I tell him she is looking for a date for her cotillion, and he moves in closer and says he LOVES a party and would be delighted to go, and he wants to know if there will be rum served at the party.  She tells him no, it’s a Catholic school, and his face lights up as he says, “Even better!   I love Catholic parties!”   He is such a hoot, we hate that they take the photos and our time is up. 

Once we have had our moment with the Captain, all else pales in comparison, and we decide to head out for the night.  We stop long enough to enjoy the spectacular fireworks, and then head out to the parking lot.  We are back at the hotel by 11:30, and asleep by around midnight.  It’s been a long day, but so much fun.  We have nothing planned tomorrow except a visit to the Spa, so we have to put in a wake up call to be at the spa for 7:45.  What crazy person made those appointments?   Oh yeah, Me.

Brighid and Anna First Annual Mother/Daughter Trip to Disney World

The following trip report is not for the faint of heart, those on the fence about whether or not to have children, the squeamish, or those who take life too seriously to enjoy the small things.

Cast of Characters – Anna (mom, age 42) and Brighid (daughter, age 15)

Day 1 February 7th, 2007

On our way home from Disney World last week, my husband and I decided if we could find reasonable airfare, as a special treat for our teenage daughter, she and I would take a quick trip to Disney – just the two of us, no little kids, no dad, just a girly thing. We wanted to do something special for her for getting accepted into a mini-medical school program. She is one of only 4 sophomores to get accepted into a mostly senior program. We are so proud.

I managed to get a one bedroom villa at SSR, our home resort, so we will have the kitchen and the great tub. I sat down at the computer to check air fare, and lo and behold, a Southwest Ding fare comes up just as I am sitting there – one way, $42 from Philly to Orlando. I am so excited that this all seems to be falling into place, and I am going to get a stress free, calm vacation with my daughter, who all too soon will be grown up and too busy to want to do this. Everything gets booked, and I am thrilled.

Then the report card comes in the mail.

Okay, I pick myself up from the floor, discuss how bad it will look for me to take her out of school for 3 days with grades like these, yell and scream about how much the tuition is costing me, listen to how much better she is in control of the two subjects that she is doing poorly in, yell again about how someone gets in control of two big subjects by Monday when on Friday she was doing “great” in everything, and then I threaten to send her to public school, where I can get grades like this for free. In fairness to Brighid, her GPA is 3.3, but she went from an A first quarter to a C in Algebra II; she got a low C (very low) in Chemistry; and she got Ds on the chem exam and the algebra exam. Were it not for her first quarter grades, the GPA would have been much lower.

So, because I’ve already paid for stuff and booked stuff, we agree to take the trip anyway. We also secure tutoring for Brighid for every day for the rest of her natural life, and we light candles in Church for the redemption of her academic soul. I promise not to mention the grades during the entire trip (and here we are, 12 hours in, and I have only broken that promise 14.3 times), and we agree that the situation is now, truly, under control.

Off we go to the day of the trip. My husband, who has taken the three days off, finds out the night before that he has to go to a meeting. He does have time to take the 5 year old to school, but not the one year old to Dram’s and Pop-pop’s. I get up and get everyone ready, Brighid and I are packed, and I am going to take the baby to my mom’s until Jim can get her after the meeting. It’s only an hour trip, round trip, at the most, and I step out the door at 7:30.

Oh crap.

It has snowed the night before – only an inch – but apparently, an inch is enough to throw off the entire state of NJ. In addition, I have to go past a large mansion on the way to my mom’s house. Because traffic is terrible and I am now running late, of course this mansion has gone up in flames and now the road is closed to accomodate the fire and emergency services vehicles. I am in a panic – checking my watch, since my car is picking us up at 9:45 to get us to the airport. I had planned to have plenty of time, stop at Starbucks, get home and check my email. At 9:43, I pull back up in front of the house to find a slightly ticked off driver, wondering where the heck I am. Yep, this is a Skamarakas family trip, alright. Murphy’s law above all else.

We get to the airport, and I have to tell you, the last time I flew was to London and Rome a year before the attacks on the World Trade Center. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. Those feelings completely melt away and leave behind absolute mortification when I get to security and find out that I have to remove my shoes before I can get on the airplane. Are these people serious? I mean, I’m all for safety and security and all that stuff, but I’m a mom to three daughters and a dog – do they think I actually have two socks that match? And if I did, do they have any idea what the chance is that I know where those two matching socks are and happen to be wearing them today?

Up I go, removing my shoes, apologizing to the security people, the people in front of me, the people behind me, telling them my mother always told me to have clean underwear, but never said anything about socks. I glance down in prayer, hoping that at least I have two socks of the same color. Yay! I do!! And just minutes later, we are on our way to the gate, secure in the knowledge that none of our fellow passengers is carrying explosives in their shoes, and none of them care that my left sock was a little less white than the right.

The flight is uneventful, and I am so excited when they give me not only a small bag of peanuts to snack on, but a bag of crackers which taste like my favorite Club Crackers and are shaped like little airplanes! I decide to save the crackers for my daughters back home, and I have a nice snack on the peanuts.

We arrive in Orlando, and because I was worried about coming in late, I declined my in-laws invitation to pick us up in favor of taking Disney’s Magical Express. We phoned only the day before about using this transportation, so we had no luggage tags or anything, but they assured us everything would be taken care of. The bus going to SSR is pretty full, as it also makes stops at OKW, POFQ and Riverside. It’s a nice ride and we are soon pulling into the resort area.

Check in is smooth, as we were the first people in line from the bus ride over here. In a matter of just a few minutes, we are assigned room 7325 in the Carousel section. I am really bad with a map, and it looks like the section is 1000 miles away from where we are, but before I can voice my concerns, the CM at the front desk tells me to go to the bell services stand out front and they will get me to the building where I need to be. After a rather lengthy wait, we are on our way for about a 3 minute ride on the golf cart to our room.

We head upstairs, anxious to get on the phone to the in-laws, who are meeting us for dinner. Brighid runs into the bathroom and comes out telling me there is a huge puddle in the bathroom and I should call someone. I walk over and smell the urine smell pretty immediately, and get on the phone to the front desk. After a half hour wait for maintenance, I phone again and ask for a manager. We have been on the road all day after all, and we have to pee.

Finally, someone comes up, flushes the toilet a dozen or more times, and tells us that there is nothing wrong with the toilet, but someone has apparently “had an accident” on the floor and never notified housekeeping. Since we have just arrived, our assumption would have been that housekeeping had been here since the last guests. I get back on the phone – holding it at arms length so as to not pick up any other germs in this disease infested room, and I tell James, the front desk manager, that apparently, his housekeepers have peed on the floor here, and I would rather not risk sleeping in the bed tonight. He promptly assigns me to a room one floor up.

Now settled into our new room – well, as settled as we can be without luggage. we phone the in-laws, we phone home to hear children screaming and a dog barking, and a husband telling me to enjoy my vacation. We are soon on our way off property for dinner – Black Angus, here we come!

We are back in our room, full and tired, and we find our luggage. We unpack, Brighid gets a nice hot bath with bubbles in the jacuzzi tub, and we curl up in bed to watch LOST.

The first day of the first annual mother daughter trip goes off as expected – with a little bit of everything rolled into fun.