Review of Fulton’s Crab House

Fulton’s Crab House  June 16th, 2006
Dinner – a bowl of crab and lobster bisque; crab cake entree with vegetables; grilled opah with pineapple glaze and butternut squash; half order of steamed snow crab legs Approximate Price of Entrees: An arm and a Leg ($112.00, with no alcoholic beverages)

Rate the following (1-5, five being the best!)

Food: 4
Service: 5

Atmosphere: 5

Okay for Children: My kids enjoyed it, and the waitstaff was extremely attentive to them.  I could see if they were busy that this might be too long of a meal for kids to sit through

Okay for Couples: This could absolutely be a romantic meal

Be Sure to Try: the Opah was VERY good

General Tips: We made a fairly early ADR, and it worked out great.  There were very few tables filled when we arrived, so we were seated and served immediately.  We left shortly after 6, and it was becoming quite crowded.

MouseForLess Tip: WHATEVER you can do to save money here, do it.  Some of the prices are really outrageous.  You might want to order a couple of appetizers and share an entree.  A lot of the sides are a la carte, so if
you want to skip an appetizer, but add a potato, maybe you can share that. I also try to avoid the children’s menu for Eilis lately so she isn’t limited to fried or greasy food.  She wanted the snow crab (which she loves
at home), so I ordered it, and the waitress told me since it was for a child, they could split the portion AND the price – so she got half the amount of snow crab for half of the price.  Note – she was still hungry
afterwards, as half the portion was 1/2 of a whole crab, and she can easily eat a whole crab herself.

Extra Comments: My aunt and uncle owned a seafood restaurant for YEARS on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and we are huge seafood eaters at our
house.  If I walked into a restaurant at home or in the Outer Banks and was charged $30 for a crabcake platter, I would expect it to come with a salad, a vegetable, and a potato or rice or another side.  If I was paying $30 for snow crab, I would expect at least two clusters with salad and sides.  I thought my crabcakes were “okay” – definitely NOT worth the amount of money I spent for them and little else.  Brighid’s fish was delicious, but for what it cost, I could have sent her deep sea diving for a day to catch it herself, then flown her to Hawaii to pick a fresh pineapple for the glaze (okay, it wasn’t that much, but for $30, she could have at least gotten a salad).

They did give us a commemorative souvenir of the dining experience – the recipe for Fulton’s Crab Boursin.  We may never use it, but for what it cost us to eat there, I’m having it bronzed 🙂

Driving to Disney World June 16th, 2006

Day 1 will forever be known as “The Day Mommy had her nervous breakdown”. We are scheduled to leave IMMEDIATELY following Brighid’s final – final exam, which ended at 9:45 AM on Thursday.  The deal was we would pack the car and everything up on Wednesday.  I didn’t factor in things like the fact that my husband was in Boston and wouldn’t be able to carry all the stuff out to the car or entertain the baby while I packed stuff.  I didn’t factor in the last minute sleep over Eilis was invited to at Dram’s house (my mother), meaning that Grace would have NO ONE to entertain her for any length of time.  I also forgot to factor in the studying Brighid would need to do.  Wednesday night came, and at midnight, I was still folding clothes
and packing the suitcase.  Having been up the night before with a teething baby, I was running on fumes, and not looking forward to the drive the next day.
So, I picked Brighid up from school, I am already stressed that I don’t have everything done, and we head home so we can finish up and be on the road by
11 – I hope.  As it gets closer to 11 and I start to find all the other stuff I haven’t done, I start freaking out.  I am panicked over that DC traffic, and now that it’s summer, I want to be through DC by 2.

By 11:10, I am like a mad woman.  Eilis and Grace have quietly entertained themselves downstairs by pulling out all of the toys I put away so that when Jim walks into the house after a week in Boston, he doesn’t trip and kill himself on a Barbie shoe.  So I am yelling at Eilis for not playing quietly with the toys I left out.  While I am downstairs cleaning up every single Barbie pump, ski boot and sandal, Eilis and Grace decide to make themselves lunch out of the snack box I have packed.  So when I am finished downstairs, I come upstairs to find pretzels crushed all over the floor, Pop-tart wrappers strewn about, and applesauce painting the railing that leads to the upstairs.

This is when my eye started to twitch.

Then I remember – I have another kid.  Where the heck is she?

Now, any mom to a teenage daughter will understand when I say that I am oh so grateful that I found her, that she hadn’t lapsed into a coma from a terrible, sudden onset of illness.  I am thrilled beyond belief that she has not been abducted from right under my nose by an unsavory character wandering our neighborhood.  I am ecstatic that the alien space ship has bypassed her room in favor of a more interesting teenage specimen.  But when I find that she is in front of her mirror, re-applying makeup, fixing the hair that she has already fixed in the car on the way home from school, on the front step as I opened the door, in the dining room as I put the suitcases by the front door, in the bathroom as she is changing into her “driving clothes”, it is all I can do to keep my hands from spontaneously reaching out to grab her by that now way too over done hair and dragging her down the steps, out to the car, and dangling my car keys in front of her almost 15 year old nose and saying, “Nyah, nyah, now you don’t get to borrow the car until you’re 27!!”

Instead, I just take leave of my senses, and go nuts, yelling and screaming and attracting the neighbors.  Thank goodness most of them are elderly, and attracting them means they have all peeked out from behind their curtains, and not seeing blood running in a stream from my house down the block, staining their driveways, and then they’ve gone back to their old person activities.

We are finally in the car about 11:45, and I spend a good 15 minutes praying that there is some magical tranquilizing powers in the Diet Coke I am about
to pop open.  I feed all the CDs that Jim has made in the CD player, and I tune in the Blue Collar Comedy channel on the new Sirius Satellite Radio my mom has given me.  I figure with the caffeine buzz, the music from the happiest moments of my life playing in the background, and Jeff Foxworthy convincing me that my family is not so screwed up after all, I should be
okay to at least get across the Delaware Memorial Bridge without killing anyone.  OMG – guess what sign is blinking above the bridge when I get there?   “If you are in crisis, Call 1-888- some number that will keep you
from throwing your kids off of this bridge”.  Seriously – there is a crisis hotline number blinking across the message board at the bridge.  I am being watched out for from the great beyond.

Guess what?   I get to DC by 2, and am stuck in a traffic jam that puts me another hour behind schedule.  Yep.  An hour.

I manage to make it to Lumberton, NC by 9 PM, and we stop for the night. I put my jammies on, and leave Brighid to play with the two littles while I try to get a head start on sleeping.  I fall asleep to the soothing sounds of Britney Spears telling Matt Lauer that she is not white trash while her boobs are falling out of the sausage casing top she is wearing, her too short denim skirt is riding up her thighs, and her flip flops are dangling on the floor of her gazillion dollar mansion.  All is right with the world.

Review of Restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco at EPCOT

Where: Restaurant Marrakesh

When: Saturday, 27 May, 2006

What: Lunch
Combination Appetizer for Two – Beef Brewat Rolls, Chicken Bastilla, and
Jasmina Salad

Roast Lamb Meshoui – a Moroccan tradition – roasted lamb in natural juices

Lemon Chicken – braised half chicken seasoned with garlic, green olives and
preserved lemon

Child’s Kefta – hamburger served on a bun with fries

Marrakesh Delight – fresh fruit salad topped with mint ice cream, toasted
almonds and orange blossom water

Approximate Price of Entrees: Total: Approx $90, including tax and tip.

Rate the following (1-5, five being the best!)

Food: 5
Service: 3.5–Waiter was new, but extremely nice, which compensated for the
slow service.

Atmosphere: 5

Okay for Children: Yes–separate children’s menu with familiar foods, and
the small children in our family enjoyed the music and belly dancing.

Okay for Couples: Yes–not especially quiet, but a nice setting for a
romantic meal

Be Sure to Try: Appetizer Sampler–good way to try out several of the dishes
featured on the menu.

Marrakesh Delight–good especially on a hot day; very light, cool, and
refreshing

General Tips: Try and request table near floor, where the belly dancing
takes place

We had reservations for noon, right when the restaurant opened, but the
entertainment did not begin until around 1pm. You may want to time your
reservation so you do not finish your meal before the entertainment begins.

Tip: The Berber Feast includes the jasmina salad, roast lamb
meshoui, chicken kabob and seasonal fruit salad for $23.95. You are
receiving your whole meal for one price.

The Sultan Sampler, for $19.95, can certainly be split with two people. It
includes a grilled brochette of either beef or chicken, a Beef Brewat Roll
and Chicken Bastilla served with vegetable couscous

Extra Comments: When we arrived, our waiter brought ice water for the whole
table, and then left us to cool off for a few minutes. He then came back and
took drink orders, and left again, and then came back to take our meal
order. By the time he took our meal order, tables that had been seated at
the same time as we had been, were already eating their entrees. He was very
nice and interacted well with the children. He made sure all of our needs
were attended to. He gave Eilis a complimentary dish of ice cream and
cookies, and did not charge us for the apple juice for the baby. However, it
was paced a little slower than we would have liked, and the meal took us an
hour-and-a-half, which is quite a bit of time out of the theme park day,
especially with small children.

The wait staff and the hostess were extremely child-friendly. The hostess
introduced herself to Grace by scooping her up from behind, which was a
little frightening to our stranger-shy thirteen-month-old. Pretty much
everyone, wait staff and hostess, were pretty kissy and cuddly with the
kids. It was very endearing to see this aspect of the Morroccan culture, but
for some families, it could be considered a little too familiar.

We have always enjoyed our meal here, but we almost always overlook this
restaurant when making our ADRs. The food is always different and unique,
the show is enjoyable, the service is friendly, and it is a nice break to
the theme park day.

Disney Memorial Day Trip Report – the Last Day

Sunday, May 28th

It’s check out day today, and I am already tired from anticipating the long
drive home by myself.  Jim, however, has started a family tradition that
takes us into a park on our last day until noon or so, so that he ends up
being OHSD (Our Hero, Super Daddy).  Of course, not to be outdone, TDGM
(That Dimwitted Goofy Mommy), decided to head to Universal Studios on our
way out of Orlando so the kids could ride the last few rides and enjoy the
waning moments of their vacation.

Despite difficulty sleeping (long story, but the gist of it is Grace sleeps
with Jim and I, and when Jim is not on the other side of her, I get nervous
and sleep very lightly, worrying that she’ll fall out of bed.  Even though I
had a guard rail and three pillows between her and falling to certain death
on the carpeted floor a foot and a half below, I slept with one eye open
most of the vacation.), I was up, packed and dragging kids by their feet as
they dug their nails into the furniture out the door of the hotel to begin
the journey home by 8 AM.  I made a couple of stops, and pulled into
Preferred Parking at Universal Studios at 8:30 – half an hour before they
opened.  Because of the charge for the Express Passes on the holiday
weekend, the only way to really do the rides at Universal if you are not a
Universal resort guest is to get there first thing in the morning.  This has
worked out well for us the last couple of trips, and it works out well this
time, too.

Brighid and Eilis ride Jimmy Neutron; Twister; Men In Black; Back to the
Future; and ET before 10:30, and Gracie is dripping with sweat.  I have
forgotten to bring the sippie cup in the park with me in all of that super
mom nonsense I was trying to pull off this morning, so I tell the girls we
are going to pack it in, grab some drinks, and head back to the car.  I
promise them we’ll get lunch on the way out.

We bid a fond farewell to Universal Studios for the time being, and head on
back to our car in Cat in the Hat.  Have I mentioned I hate this parking
lot?   Honestly, the car stays much cooler than it does in the huge lots at
Disney, but it just seems to zap my energy to leave the park and have to
walk 600 miles to my car – and that’s if I pay to upgrade to Preferred
Parking!   The moving sidewalks make it easier, but you can’t use them if you
have a stroller.  No way to treat a fat chick, I’m telling you 🙁

We are in the car, have some great lunches in hand, courtesy of the
McDonald’s on Sand Lake Road (if you have never been, it is truly an
experience all it’s own), and we drive through to Florence, SC, where we
stop for the night.

I won’t bore you with the details of our overnight stop or uneventful trip
home.  But we did arrive home today, Memorial Day, in time to grill a few
steaks, have some corn on the cob, and enjoy being back home with Jim.

Disney Memorial Day Trip Report Day 3

Friday, May 26th

The Streak Is Alive!

On each of my last three trips to Disney, someone has gotten sick.  I was
tempted to keep all three of my kids in a plastic bubble in the weeks before
this trip to keep them from getting ill, but the thought of cleaning the
fingerprints off of the plastic convinced me to take my chances with them in
the real, germ filled world.

At exactly 12:03 AM, 3 minutes after the emergency walk in clinic has closed
for the night, Eilis wakes up crying with ear pain.  She has just done 20
days on antibiotics for recurring ear infections, and I fear this is what it
might be.  I phone the front desk and ask if there is another clinic
anywhere else where I might be able to take her to get a prescription, and
they tell me no, but they will be happy to phone paramedics for me.  Back in
November when I was here, Gracie was having trouble breathing, so I did have
them call paramedics, and they were both really cute and very nice, but my
thought is that sending a paramedic for an ear infection, no matter how cute
he might be, was overkill.

I get up, get dressed, and plan on going to the ER with her, when it occurs
to me that I might be able to phone home and ask our pediatrician what to
do.  I call ahead back to the front desk and ask for the phone number for a
close pharmacy so that if our ped gives me a prescription, I can give him a
phone number to call it in.  The ped tells me that it might not be an
infection, since she has no fever, and he gives me another possible cause
and tells me to keep her on Motrin for 48 hours for the discomfort, and as
long as she is fever free, that should help.  When 48 hours is up, we’ll be
on our way home, and they will meet me at the ER at home if she isn’t any
better.  Of course, I have no motrin with me, and head out the door to go to
Walgreen’s, when I take a chance and see if they keep an emergency supply at
the front desk, even though the gift shop is closed.  THEY DO!!!   Good to
know!   By 12:45, Eilis is resting comfortably, and I am wide awake watching
bad TV until 3:30.

The alarm goes off at 6, and I bleary eyed walk to the shower while the kids
sleep.  Sleep is overrated, I tell myself, and when I was their age, on
vacation with my dad, he’d have us up and out the door by this time of day
to make the most of the trip.  My kids are too soft!

We have made an ADR for Crystal Palace, and I toyed with the idea of heading
over to AK so Eilis can ride Kali River Rapids, but with the expected heat
today, I decide park hopping may not be an option, especially if Eilis is
not feeling well, and we head to MK.  By the time the place opens, we are
there.  Eilis feels fine today, but I make her take the Motrin anyway.  And
now Gracie is suffering from a runny nose 🙁   We’ll deal with it as needed
– there are things to do!

The crowd is really manageable, and we ride Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride, the
Jungle Cruise, and Big Thunder Mountain in pretty quick succession.  We have
discovered something about Grace that I’m not especially proud of.  I ran to
get drinks when the kids were on Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride, and as I am
heading back, I hear this God awful screaming banshee of a kid as the ride
comes to a stop.  Thank God, I think, that that is not my child.  Oh no.
That is my child.  Brighid is walking off of the ride with Gracie SCREAMING
and holding her arms back, trying to wiggle out of Brighid’s arms to get
back on the ride.  I do a quick look around to see where I can hide and act
like these are not my children walking towards me yelling, “Mom, Mommy,
Mom!!! Can you take this baby???”   Darn.  I am the only “mom” looking person
in the vicinity.

Grace continues to scream and reach back towards Aladdin as if we are
kidnapping her, and by the time we are in the very short line for the Jungle
Cruise, I am hoping a security guard will believe that I have kidnapped her
and come get her from me to try to find her real parents.  No such luck.
But once we are on the Jungle Cruise, she is settled and happy again.  Whew.
    We have a brief version of the same reaction after she exits the Jungle
Cruise too, but I keep reassuring her that we are going to see something
else and ride another ride, and she eventually seems to understand that
getting off of one thing leads us to something else more wonderful and more
magical.

Brighid and Eilis ride BTMR, and then we head over to Buzz Lightyear, for
which Brighid has already acquired Fast Passes 🙂   We have not had to wait
for anything yet, and Buzz is a great ride.  I am on my way to controlling
the universe, despite having a baby in my lap, when my laser gun stops
working 🙁   I try to reach around and use the one on Grace’s side, but her
chubby little hands are clasped pretty tightly around it, and I end up
sitting there actually enjoying the ride, looking at the different targets I
could be hitting.

There is just enough time to do the Tomorrowland Transit Authority ride
before heading to lunch, and as it has done with her sister’s before her, it
lulls Grace to sleep.  By the time we are actually seated at Crystal Palace,
Gracie has had a nice 30 minute nap, and she is hungry and in good spirits
for lunch.  Until the characters come near her.  She is just about climbing
out of the high chair, but then as soon as they go away, she is yelling for
them to come back, putting her little hands up in the “Come back, come get
me” pose.  Poor Tigger actually thinks she means this, and turns around to
come back to her, only to have her jump out of her skin when he gets close.

I had originally planned to leave after lunch and take the kids back to the
hotel for some rest, but the lunch rejuvenates the lot of them, so we press
on.  Eilis is rattling off the things she’d like to do and like to ride,
when she sees the hair wrap people.  She decides this is what she wants to
do.  Brighid runs off and grabs fast passes for Splash Mountain – Eilis’
first time!! – while I wait in line for a hair wrap with Eilis.  By the time
we have our turn, it is almost time for our fast pass, so we head over to
the mountain.  Eilis has BEGGED to do this ride, and she does really well,
except she is too anxious about the big drop to appreciate the story inside.
    At least I think that.  But when we are off the ride, she runs to Brighid
to tell her the whole story of Brer Rabbit and the briar patch and the great
ride, except for the big hill at the end.

The crowds are pretty thick now, so we decide it’s time to head out.  We
make a few stops in a few shops, and we are in the car about 4 PM.

Back at the hotel, Eilis lays down for a nap, and we try to decide what to
do about meeting my in-laws for dinner.  Eilis is now saying her ear hurts,
and Grace is dozing off, so we call the in-laws and ask if they want to meet
here for pizza, so we order pizza in the room and entertain the grandparents
until after 9 PM.  I bathe the littles and they are both asleep by 10 🙂

Without starting a war, I do want to say something about towel animals.
When we arrived on Thursday, as we were walking to our room, virtually EVERY
window we passed had some cute towel thing going on – with stickers, sparkly
things, kids’ toys staged with the towel things.  Eilis is excited to see
what her window has when we get back to the room, and Brighid, who has been
the recipient of towel animals before, is equally as excited.  When we get
back, only two windows on our floor on our side of the building have no
towel animals.  One of the two is ours.  I tip housekeeping daily, and I
leave the room pretty much cleaned up, so I know there isn’t a lot of work
to do when a housekeeper comes to our hotel room.  I know towel animals are
not a guarantee, and I completely appreciate that when the housekeepers are
busy, they probably haven’t got the time to do them.  But it’s really
disappointing to a 5 year old to walk past towel animals, towel clowns,
towel birds, and even in one window, a towel basket filled with towels, then
to get to her own window and find nothing.  I decide I must take a course in
towel animal folding so that I don’t have to deal with this disappointment
in the future 🙁

HIGHLIGHT – Eilis’ first ride on Splash Mountain
LOWLIGHT – Eilis’ sore ear and the empty window

Disney Memorial Day Trip Report Day 4

Saturday, May 27th
I will start today’s trip report with a quote from Helen Keller:

“Grief can’t be shared,
Everyone carries it alone,
his own burden, his own way.”

And this is how the day went for my darling little Granuaile.  We realized
on our trip from the parking lot into EPCOT center this morning, we lost the
only binkie we brought with us today.  And then, this afternoon, as we were
within alarm setting distance to the car, we realized we left her favorite
sippie cup at the restaurant at lunch time.  She missed the binkie most –
and I found her quite a few times today sucking on her tiny fingers in
desperation.  But she will miss the sippie cup more as time goes on.  She
loved that one and the pictures of the princesses on the sides.

The plan today was to get up early and head into AK for the EMH, then move
over to EPCOT.  How do you people do this???   My kids barely got out of bed
in time to make it to EPCOT at a reasonable hour!

We headed into EPCOT at about 9:15, and we hopped right on Space Ship Earth.
    Just what I needed after that walk across the parking lot – an air
conditioned nap!   I love this park!   Today is our last day at Disney, and
the kids want pool time, so we plan to make it a short day again.  We don’t
get fast passes for anything so that we don’t feel obligated to be anywhere,
and on the way out, I’m sorry I didn’t get at least one for the kids to do
Test Track because Eilis could have held out for one more ride.

After Spaceship Earth, we headed over to the Living Seas for Turtle Talk
with Crush.  WE LOVED IT!!   Brighid and Eilis went up to the front to sit on
the floor, and I stayed in the back with Grace.  During the show, my cell
phone, which was in the bag Brighid had, started ringing, and Crush asked if
that was someone’s “Shell Phone”, and told her to “totally answer it, Dude!
They’ll never believe you’re talking to a Turtle!”

There was NO ONE at Journey Into the Imagination, so we had the whole car to
ourselves.  That was nice, and it’s such a cute ride for the little kids.
We fast passed Living with the Land and then headed to Restaurant Marrakesh
for lunch.

We arrived a few minutes before our 12 o’clock ADR, and the hostess played
with Eilis and Grace while we waited.  If you are not comfortable with your
kids being cuddled and kissed by total strangers, this may not be the place
to eat.  The hostess introduced herself to us by coming over and scooping
Grace up out of the stroller to play with her, and then when she seated us,
she hugged and kissed Eilis and thanked her for playing with her.  Grace
also got a few kisses on top of her head by the waiter and one of the CMs in
one of the shops.  I didn’t feel uncomfortable with it at all – it was
somewhat endearing – although if they are both sick with colds in a day or
two, I’ll regret allowing them to be so cuddled and cooed over.

After a great lunch, we headed over to the shop in Japan and wandered around
a while.  I always love going in here, and it reminds me of my sister.  She
used to love to do the pearl thing, and I can’t help but feel her close to
me when we stroll through this shop.

We worked up just enough of an appetite and a sweat to get a Kaki Gori – my
all time favorite treat at Disney.  We sat and enjoyed it while listening to
a performance by the Volunteers, a band of active Army guys.  This is not
your Daddy’s military band!   I remember being dragged as a kid to hear all
kinds of military bands, but none ever played Huey Lewis; Steely Dan; or
Tears for Fears.  GREAT band!!

We took the boat back across to do some shopping for an antennae ball for
Pop-Pop at Mouse Gears before we left.  There was no line at Space Ship
Earth on the way out – there never is – so we hopped on that for one more
ride before heading back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel, we enjoyed a bit of time in the pool, and then a NICE
dinner from the food court.  We haven’t really eaten the real food at the
food court before, and we are pleasantly surprised with our dinner.

We are now packing up to get ready to leave – hence the reason I’m trip
reporting 🙁   I hate the thought of leaving!

HIGHLIGHT – the GREAT lunch at EPCOT
LOWLIGHT – RIP our favorite sippie cup and our beloved binkie 🙁

Memorial Day Weekend Disney Trip Report

Cast of Characters – Mom Anna (41), and DDs Brighid (14); Eilis (5) and
Granuaile (1)

Wednesday, May 24th and Thursday, May 25th:

I drop Brighid off at school at 8, and Eilis at 9 for her end of year beach
party.  I drive home hoping Gracie will fall asleep so I can pack the car
without worrying about her, and she does!!   I pop Grace into her crib, and
load the car.  I can’t believe it – I’m all set and ready to go!

I get Grace out of her crib at 10:50, change her and we head over to pick
Eilis up, since she gets done at 11:30.  Brighid can’t get out of school
until 12:15 in order for it to count as a full day, so we stop at McDonald’s
to pick up lunch, top off the gas tank, and then head over to pull Brighid
out of school.

My biggest fear – getting to the DC area at rush hour – is mostly averted.
We arrive just about 3 in the area, and traffic is just starting to build.
We have no dead stops, but there are a few delays – not enough to be
frustrating, though.  YIPPEEE!!

As we’re driving, I’m trying to figure out how late I should stop to keep
some kind of bedtime schedule with the kids, and figure I’ll be in
Lumberton, NC by 10 or 10:30, so we’ll stop there.  Brighid phones ahead to
a Marriott Fairfield Inn (gotta collect my reward points!), and we stop for
dinner at a Cracker Barrel.  Oh My Goodness – service couldn’t have been any
slower if the guy had molasses on his shoes, and to further complicate
matters, not one, but both elderly women at a table near us suffer a spell
and an ambulance has to be called.  We are kind of pinned at our table while
they get the one woman on a stretcher to load her in the ambulance, and I
thank God the other woman decides her spell is just anxiety from the other
woman taking ill and we don’t have to wait for another ambulance to come and
get her – our table is literally in the middle of the action – the manager,
other waitstaff, EMTs, and if the other lady needed an ambulance transport,
I figure we are stuck there at least another half hour.

I’m regretting now making the reservation in Lumberton, because it is 8 when
we get in the car after dinner and I’m tired. I ask Brighid to check which
exit number it is, and what a lucky break – she booked the wrong hotel and I
only have to drive to Fayetteville!   It’s about 25 miles closer to where we
are!

We check in just in time to see the end of American Idol (Yay, Taylor!), and
the kids are too excited to sleep, so we end up awake until after midnight.
I have a wake up call in for 4:30, but the call never comes.  I wake up
myself at 5:05, and we decide to skip the showers and race to get ready.  We
are in the car by 5:30.

Traffic is not too bad the rest of the way, and we arrive to check in a All
Star Movies at 2:30.  Our room is not ready – and I guess a lot of rooms are
not ready because there is a long line of people sitting and standing
against the wall with luggage.  We head for the food court and grab lunch,
and by the time we are finished, the room is ready.  We are in the Fantasia
building, much to Eilis’ dismay.  She wanted Toy Story.

We get our stuff unpacked, make the calls to the hubby and my mom to let
them know we’ve arrived safely, and then to the in-laws to make arrangements
to meet them for dinner tomorrow night.

The kids hit the pool while I hop in the shower.  I think we may run over to
EPCOT, but the kids are tired and crabby.  We decide to order pizza and hang
out at the hotel.  We get a knock on the door, and it’s a beautiful gift box
of goodies from the Princesses for Eilis to congratulate her on her
preschool graduation (Peggy’s Sweets comes through in a great way!), and
Eilis now has to call Daddy, and Dram, and Nanny to let everyone know of her
great package.

It gets to be about 8, and the baby is so tired she is stumbling as she
walks.  Okay, she is just learning to walk and would be stumbling anyway,
but trust me, she’s tired.  I get the two littles in bed and flip through
the dials to find the bedtime stories that Eilis loves.  Guess what?   NO
BEDTIME STORIES!!!

So, the wake up call is in, I’m providing bedtime stories (but I’m really
tired, so I cut to the chase, the Wolf eats everyone and ends up in a clinic
for treatment of Bulimia, the end, goodnight), and we are heading to the
Magic Kingdom early tomorrow.

Highlights – the goodie basket; the great traffic; the good luck on booking
the wrong hotel; and Taylor winning American Idol.

Disappointments – Hubby had to cancel at the last minute due to work
obligations; NO BEDTIME STORIES – that’s a biggie.

Sonic Virgins No More

We tried a new restaurant for breakfast this morning – well, new to us.  We have never eaten at a Sonic Drive In, but when we pulled off the highway in search of an elusive McDonald’s in Somewhere Little, SC, we came upon a fairly deserted Sonic.  We pulled in and we were going to pull right out, not knowing if they were open or served breakfast, but we came around back where the drive up window is.  They   had a breakfast menu, so we decided to stay and order.

The kids had Wacky Packs.  When we ordered them, the sign had only French Toast listed for breakfast.  We were surprised when the person inside asked which Wacky Pack we wanted and quoted the other flavors – all lunch meals.  How cool that you can get lunch at 7:30 AM 🙂   The Wacky Packs come with 2 french toast sticks, an order of tater tots, and a drink.  We chose the Sunrise drink – cherry limeade with orange juice.  It was a hit with Brighid, but fell short for the other two girls.  Jim drank  Eilis’.  The french toast was well received – completely gone and not a spare bite to be had.

Jim and  I had the Bistro breakfast sandwiches – his with ham, mine with bacon.  It was a good sized sandwich, hot and fresh, with a bun that was almost snowflake roll like in texture.  Jim enjoyed his, felt like the bread was freshly made, not pre-packaged, and he really enjoyed the  tater tots, which had almost a buttery flavor.  You could alternatively get onion rings or fries with your breakfast.

A good experience, a nice meal, and we are hoping we find them again at lunchtime!  

Raglan Road Irish Pub review

Who: The Skamarakas Family – Jim (Dad); Anna (Mom); Brighid (DD14); Eilis (DD5); Granuaile (DD who turned 1 today!!); Dot (Grandmom); Russ (PopPop)

Where: Raglan Road Irish Pub

When: April 16, 2006

What: Lunch –
Where’s Me Fada Burger (kid’s menu cheeseburger with fries); Me Ma’s Pie – Beef and Lamb; Me Ma’s Pie – Chicken and Mushroom; Fada Burger – Sirloin burger with cheese; Sod – the Stew (an Irish stew made with Guinness); One and One – Fish and Chips; Ger’s Bread and Butter Pudding; Bates Bangher Banoffi Beauty – graham cracker crumbs, bananas, caramel and whipped cream
 Soft drinks and juice

Approximate Price of Entrees: About $100

Rate the following (1-5, five being the best!)

Food: 4
Service: 2

Atmosphere: 5

Okay for Children: Based on our experience today, I would say no.  Our service was WAYYYY too slow for the littlest members of our party.  We sat down to lunch just about 2 PM and didn’t get done until nearly 3:30.  There was Irish music piped in, but in terms of entertainment for little kids – none.
Okay for Couples: Yes – although this definitely has a pub atmosphere – don’t expect quiet and romantic

Be Sure to Try: We would both HIGHLY recommend the pies.  Dad had the chicken and mushroom; Mom had the beef and lamb.  The chicken had nice chunks of chicken and mushrooms in a nice gravy – similar to what you would expect in a chicken pot pie.  The beef and lamb had nicely flavored ground meats.  The pies themselves were flaky and light – very nice.  You can have them served with either chips (french fries) or a salad

General tips: We were here at 2 on Easter Sunday afternoon and expected to find crowds everywhere.  Well, due to the work being done at Pleasure Island, not too many people were heading back in this direction.  We had virtually the whole restaurant to ourselves for a while, and even after we had been there, only a few tables and a couple of bar stools were filled.  One of the bartenders was wandering around talking to us, and said it has been very quiet on Sunday afternoons with the construction work.  It was a good time to try the place out.

Dollarless Tip: I split my beef and lamb pie with the baby, and there was plenty for me to eat – especially with the nice portion of fries (not too much, not too little).  I think, had we eaten breakfast (which we did not, in case we wanted to order and sample a few things), two adults could have split the pie and the fries – and since we ordered dessert (we ordered two and we all shared), that would have been plenty to eat. 

Extra Comments:   There are not any real “starters” or appetizers on the lunch menu – a bit of a disappointment.  They did have two soups and some salads, but we had hoped to see some other appetizers that we could have shared.

Grandmom  did not enjoy her meal at all. She had fish and chips, and one of the pieces of fish was overcooked.  She said it was like eating straw.  A very handsome man with a brogue straight from the auld sod came over to try to rectify it – offering her new fish, a platter of something else, another drink, whatever she wanted.  She declined all of his offers but he was persistent with them, apologetic, and just so darn cute 🙂   My oldest daughter was swooning as he left the table.

Our waitress was one of the world’s worst.  She was very slow, kept forgetting important things, and filled my iced tea glass with Coke.  Unfortunately for her, she had no sweet Irish brogue, poor thing, so we weren’t very forgiving after the first few mistakes. 

We had an enjoyable meal here – most of us – the atmosphere is very authentic, and my daughter, a former champion Irish step dancer, enjoyed all of the music.  Also, if you are not interested in a big sit down, there is a counter service area where you can get a pint and some fish and chips or something else without having to get a table in the restaurant.    There is an outdoor seating area as well.

The Osbourne Lights Disney MGM Studios

Years back, a man from Arkansas tried to make Christmas magical for himself, his family, and especially his little girl, Breezy.  He had the most incredible spectacle of lights anyone had ever seen, and people came from miles, no, hundreds of miles to see the annual display.  Unfortunately, this man lived in Grinchville, and his neighbors complained.  A lot.  They didn’t like the traffic, the people, the mess the people made parking all over, walking on their lawns, and they demanded that this man take down his lights.  Not to disappoint his family and his beautiful little daughter, this man went all the way to the Arkansas Supreme Court before finally accepting the fact in 1994 that he would no longer be allowed to put out his Christmas display.

But wait!   In 1995, a Mouse came to the rescue.  And from that was born the Osbourne Spectacle of Lights, courtesy of Jennings Osbourne and Mickey Mouse.  The light display that made so many people happy would now be available for the world to see, as it transformed Residential Street at Disney MGM Studios into a Winter Wonderland, with colorful, twinkling lights and animated displays for as far as the eye can see.

Disney added lights and changed a few things over the years, and in 2003, due to renovations being made at Disney MGM Studios, the light spectacle was not displayed at all.  But it came back in 2004, on New York Street.  Each night during the holiday season, the lights go on in a short ceremony, snow comes gently falling down, and throngs of guests put on special effects glasses that make each light look like a snowflake, an angel, whatever they decide that year.  There are vendors through the display offering hot cocoa in holiday mugs and you can take as long as you like, roaming up and down, admiring the talent and effort that goes in to putting up so many lights.

Is this a must see?   I would rank this among one of the things not to miss if you are going to be in Disney World during the holidays.  I would say in terms of holiday spirit, if I had to choose between this and the Candlelight Processional, I would choose the Candlelight every time.  But this display is one of a kind, chock full of the spirit of Christmas, and a joy for the eye to see.