We packed up and bid adieu to the Polynesian Resort. That was the end of our stay on the Disney World property. We boarded the bus and headed off to the Disney Cruise. This, by the by, was the first cruise we took as a family. We didn’t even know if the kids would be seasick (they were a little but not much). We were also trying to figure out how to avoid the characters (the one twin still didn’t like characters). We got a wonderful suite (we needed two double beds and a cot in the room for all) that had a nice balance. We boarded and unpacked a little; we would be on the ship for four full days. Then we headed up top for our first cruise lifejacket and lifeboat drill.
Sun setting on the sea
I cannot say that the twins were aware of what the person was saying or doing. They were both trying at first to get out of the life jackets. Luckily the big sister was there to put on her jacket and show the twins it was ok. Sometimes we could tell the twins, please don’t do that (or a less nice version of don’t do that) and they would continue to do it. But their big sister could say it in words that they connected with, and often they would stop. The lifeboat drill seemed to take the entire four days of the cruise. It didn’t, but it felt like it. We stood there with our jackets on, and then they said all clear, and we were allowed to head back to our rooms. I grabbed the camera and went on the deck.
Ah the pirates life for me!
Leaving harbor pictures is something I like to do when on a cruise. So, I did! My daughter came with me, and my wife took the twins to explore the food options. After we pulled out of the harbor, we met up, and with a twin, we wandered over to the Kid’s club in each adult hand.
“I am not going to stay in the kid’s club.” Our daughter announced as we walked into the kid’s area.
We walked around a bit.
That was the last time we saw our daughter during the day for the rest of the cruise.
She was in the Kid’s club every single day!
When we went to Disney World, I had moved into the world of Digital Cameras. There are a few film pictures as well as from that trip. My wife didn’t move to fully digital until nearly 2008. Now, she takes more cellular phone pictures than I do, 10 to 1. Evolution and change is always an interesting thing when you consider it. That camera I found out later created an amazing light display. The aperture was automatic, so I had no control over how long the iris was open. The images produced were a happy accident. I read once a famous photographer said, “take the whole roll, you may get a picture you were not expecting/’ with digital that whole old is infinite.
accidental light show
Disneyworld that last day was the water park. Well we went to the main park first, ran around all morning. The twins were exchanged and needed their nap. So I took them to the room; my wife and daughter then took off for the 4th part (Animal, Epcot, Disney, and the water park). They were off water parking for the afternoon. Now I sat in the hotel room while the twins slept, fully expecting to get some work done. But when the girls got back, the twins and I were asleep. We made our last Disney Park dinner that evening. We went to one of the other hotels by Monorail. It was not a character dinner (we had learned that lesson on the very first day).
more of the light show
We hit the observatory area for fireworks that evening on the way back from dinner. The fireworks display at that time was done by a former customer of mine in Cincinnati, Ohio. They were famous for their fireworks and did the Disney Parks (in the US), Cincinnati Baseball and Football stadiums, and Kings Island. My old Kodak Camera captured the resulting light show. I could, with my new digital camera, recreate that effect. It isn’t hard. You can’t shake when you are holding the camera. But the happy circumstance of those pictures always makes me smile. For the new camera, you have to work hard to create that effect. But it was fun when I found them!
When we got back to the Polynesian Resort on Day two (first full day), we were all exhausted. Instead of heading back out to the park (which we id the next few nights), we had dinner at the Polynesian and then decided to hit the Hotel’s Arcade. This story is full of competition and is not one to be read aloud to children. When we lived in Cincinnati, my wife’s office and my office were about 12 miles apart. We would sometimes meet for lunch to spend time together (as the girls were in School and Daycare). One day before our daughter was born, we went on a Saturday to a place called Monte Carol Go-Karts. I had driven go-karts many times and figured I would have to show my wife the ropes.
When you ride the stroller hard, you sleep!!!
She passed me on the first lap and set the course record time. Fast forward to the Disney World arcade at the Polynesian Hotel. The Arcade has the full-size Indy car arcade game, with five of the Indy cars lined up so you could race people side by side. The first race of those cars (about four years after the Monte Carlo Incident, so I knew what to expect). We got into the vehicles, and the lineup was the theme, then the twins, my wife, and the other outside race car was my daughter. Back at the Monte Carlo track, my wife had bumped my car in the first lap and then passed me. It was my fault, she said. She is a non-competitive person expect with me.
It is a beautiful park!
Oh yeah, and her children. They were, run off the road one by one as my wife lapped all of us in the game. To this day, no one in our family competes with her when it comes to go-karts. Some have tried, All have failed. My wife has amended her original statement; she would always say (for years) I am a cooperative person except with you (pointing at me). Now she says I am a suitable person, except with you and driving games. OK, so the magical Disney ending to the story. We finished, got back on the monorail and went to see the fireworks over Epcot. Except for the fire2works at 10 pm and we were all asleep in the hotel room by 9 pm that evening!
The third day at Disney, nearly 20 years ago, was us hitting our stride. We had hit the Animal park, the Main Disneyworld, and now we were off to Epcot. The night before, we also plotted the next day a bit, with the places we wanted to revisit in the parks. Epcot is my personal favorite. IT brings the cultural aspect to Disneyworld with a mix of culture *there are exhibits for many global cultures) and science. What was to become our family vacation tradition everything was done on foot. I know the twins are not now, fans of that tradition. But it started then. We walked nearly everywhere we could. We did have to take the Monorail to get into the park itself.
The three of them are still this close today!
I don’t know what they complained about initially; they were riding in the twin stroller. But, now they hate the walking tradition. My youngest sister and I had gone to Epcot many years ago. It was spring break, and my parents let me take my little sister down to Florida to hang out with our grandparents. Grandpa dropped us off at Epcot and was going to pick us up in the evening. My sister and I wonder that park all day. I have so many happy memories of the conversations the time we spent there. So years later, I wanted to recreate the magic with my wife and children. I know there is a danger in trying to play something with different people involved.
it is a magical place (Disneyworld)!
But, we found new memories that day. Funny how old memories and new memories can join together. I will never forget hanging out at Epcot with my sister. That vacation we took was a highlight of my first years of college. The new memories as well are special. There are a few more days to wander, but the day spent at EPCOT was unique and special. The Bavaria and German areas within EPCOT have imported German beer, so that was fun. I know, but I love German beer. The other part was relishing the reality of our young family. That was the last vacation we would take while living in Cincinnati, Ohio. We would leave Ohio less than six months after that vacation.
We had signed up the 2nd day for a character Breakfast in the Disney World park. It was actually in the central park, and we went safe, also my daughter’s 2nd and 3rd favorite characters at that time, Chip and Dale. Sadly, we found out that one of the twins was terrified by the large moving creatures. He was also scared of animals presented in Natural History Museums. We found that out later, when we took them to the field museum in Chicago. I took the twin outside, and my wife stayed with our daughter and the other twin, inside enjoying the characters. It was pretty scary for the twin, so it took a while to calm them down. In retrospect, I would have done things differently.
Riding the Monorail!
But, hindsight is always 2020. We began our exploration of the central part of Disney world. On day one, after breakfast, we wandered to the gift shop. It is a tradition in our family (my wife and my family) to start vacations with Hats. We always buy a hat for everyone. In part, we always forget to pack them and partly because it shields eyes from the sun. After we all had hats on our heads, our daughter announced that her mission was to have a picture taken with her and Minnie Mouse. Chip and Dale were fine starting points, but the goal now was Minnie Mouse. You have to admire the willingness to put a goal out there and start heading towards it.
crash and burn!
We wandered to Aventura island. First, my wife and daughter wanted to ride a couple of the rides the towns wouldn’t be able to be on. So the twins and I were on our own for some time during the day. Any family or all together rides, we made sure to take. Funny, those rides were also some of the best rides of all. Although the town that was scared of Chip and Dale wasn’t pleased in It’s a Small world. They did fine with the Animatronic Hall of Presidents, but some of the creations in “It’s a small world” were not fun for them. I ended up singing to them (The song. It’s a small world), which helped calm them down. They were not happy about their initial character experience!
Let’s go to Disney World. Such an easy thing. They are all over the world (France, Tokyo, California (US), and Florida (US); there is even one in China. Just get up and go-go-go! Except, you have twins, and they are still young. They have to have car seats (check)! They have to have their strollers (review). Oh yeah, and we don’t want to drive. We want to fly. So you have to pack and get all of that on an airplane. Oh yeah, and other people are going so we need suitcases. Make sure you have one person with a strong back; they will be carrying a lot. The one saving grace was that this was in the days before the security change in airports. So we did not have to go through 3 or 4 security gates.
finally on the way to the airport!
Oh yeah, and the kids want to be in the parks the entire time, so you have to leave when it is still dark outside. “oh and dad, I want to ride in a limo, please.” That was what my daughter said as we were getting ready for the final preparation. We decided on a package deal my wife found. Five days in the Disney parks, three days on the Disney Cruise. Getting to the plane, getting off the plane, and getting to the cruise ship were the only stumbling blocks. Luckily we had the great big sister to help. She was always able to keep the towns happy. That allowed my wife and I to focus on the car seats and the thestroll3er. Plus all the suitcases and the other components we had to have with us.
i am waiting here
We arrived in Florida; it was March in Indiana, so cool. We came to warm in Florida. That is often the case. We focused on getting to the hotel and then decided to do the animal park first. That was to give my wife and me a chance to breathe. The twins slept on the airplane, so there was no afternoon nap that day. They were okay (the twins). Dad needed an afternoon nap, but it was not to be. Off to the Animal park, we went. Disney does a great job of keeping families happy. We ended up staying at the Polynesian resort, which is part of the park. You get to be in the park early, and it is just a monorail ride back to your hotel room at any time of day!
30 years ago yesterday.
October 1990. My best friend and I went dancing. While we were there, I met a girl. Well, it is a long story of that. I was dating someone, but things were flat. Flat in the sense that she had been married before, and it had been a messy divorce. She wasn’t over that yet, and so, we were hanging out as friends overall. My best friend invited me to go dancing with some of his friends. I met a girl that night. My girlfriend of the time and I decided the next day broke up. She wasn’t ready for serious, and I was. It happens. I wish her all the best in life. I asked my best friend (who was my roommate about the woman who joined us while we were dancing.
My wife filling her dad’s shoes
He said, “oh, I had invited her over for dinner Wednesday night.”
My best friend didn’t cook very often back then. I scrambled to figure out what to make for dinner. I had to make Chocolate chip cookies for my class that evening already. I decided to make potato soup. My roommate said he had to work, so the young lady arrived before him. She came in, and we talked while I made cookies and potato soup.
Our first official date was the weekend; we went out to view a series of one-act plays. We count that as the first night of us being a couple, October 15, 1990. We never talked about committed or set rules for our relationship. It just became. We were on the way to the Carillon tower in Bloomington, Indiana. I always dreamed of proposing at that bell tower. On the way there, four turns before the Tower, my then-girlfriend of a week said, “We should just get married.”
That was 20 years ago tomorrow. Not the day she asked me to marry her. That was October 22, 1990.
We were married nine months after we started dating. We also moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and we both started new careers in that nine-month period!
Many years ago, my first career was as a teacher. My passion was for technology, and I quickly merged the two. I worked with a summer school class, and we wrote a HyperCard stack about Dinosaurs. My favorite memory of teaching that class is the one day we were finishing up the art for the dinosaur habitat. The computer (A Macintosh) made a Mac noise. He was a first grader, one of the kids said, “that isn’t a dinosaur sound. I wonder what dinosaurs sounded like.” First of all, a k-8th grade computer class is hard to teach. Honestly, there were too many variables, too many learning levels. But that question set off a flurry of activity in the classroom.
Connor Prairie Indianapolis
The older kids went to the library and got books on dinosaurs. They read them to the younger kids, and by the end of the week, we created the sound of dinosaurs. I don’t think that many elementary and middle school kids could decode the mystery of time and recreate the actual sounds. But for the last two weeks of that class, class as we worked on finishing the application (it was written in HyperCard). I learned a lot of programming doing that HyperCard stack. Even the school summer librarian came down to my class to help us make noises. The principal also recorded two sounds for us. We had so much fun that summer building our dinosaur stack.
The Manor House
It was probably the writing on the wall for my teaching career. For me leaving teaching was the right answer. I do wistfully, from time to time, miss the kids. The reason for the wander back to education is that big field trips every year I was teaching in 2nd grade took the kids to Connor Prairie. It is a “pioneer” reenactment located about 15 minutes north of Indianapolis. We used to drive the house to Indy, go around the bypass, and 90 minutes after leaving school; we were there. I always packed a huge lunch in a backpack because no matter what, there were still kids who didn’t have food, no matter what. So Mr. A used to share with the kids. You need extra if you are going to share and still eat!
There are two stories I will share over the next few days about stuffed animals. Interesting that both involve trips to Chicago. One consists of going to Chicago, and we will start there. We got a pet sitter (for Fra and Gwen), and the kids, my wife, and I all headed up to Chicago for a long weekend. We drove up Thursday after work, and I took Friday off. Monday was a holiday, and we drove home that day. But, this is the story of getting there. Well, not the story of getting there. We were living in me, Greenwood, Indiana. So Getting to Chicago was simply two roads. We drove down the Olive Branch road, eventually with a turn or two that intersected Smith Valley Road.
i love that lighthouse
Smith Valley then intersected Indiana 37, and we headed north to the 465 loops around Indianapolis. Then it simply grabbed US 65 North and well drove. The kids were excited about the trip. We were cruising along and reached the point of known return. That is the point in the journey where you are better off at 8 pm, just making it to the hotel. Sadly that was when we discovered that Honey Bear and Ma Bear had not made the trip with us. There was considerable consternation among Twin Nation. No bears meant sleeping was impossible. We arrived in Downtown Chicago and pulled into the garage of the hotel around 8:30 pm. The trauma was palatable.
Chicago Children’s Museum
We were at the Downtown Marriott (I miss having free nights at hotels)! Just across the street was FAO Schwartz, the toy store. We rushed to our room, threw the suitcases in the room, and walked to FAO Scharwrts. The only hope for sleep at that point was finding stuffed animals that would do for two nights. It wasn’t going to be easy as the new sleeping buddy had big shoes to fill. Thanks to Finding Nemo which was in theaters at the time, we ended up finding Clown Fish stuffed and bright. Luckily all three kids were willing to sleep with the fishes (I always wanted to say that(! The crisis was averted, and we were able to enjoy our trip to Chicago.
It is funny when I look back at the transitions my wife and I made. We are coming up on our 30 years together in a few days. She and I moved to Cincinnati, Ohio; we had no friends, well she had friends there at work, but we were leaving family. I had one college friend that lived in Cincinnati at the time. Her folks were in Hot Springs, Arkansas and my folks were in Bloomington, Indiana. We never looked back. Bloomington was in our rearview mirror. It is funny only because we had each other, and that was enough. We packed a U-Haul (actually, it was a Ryder Truck) and headed off to Cincinnati. We lived in a community outside of the city limits of Cincinnati at first called Fairfield, Ohio.
My favorite Chicago Lighthouse (just off Navy Pier)!
My one friend lived in Fairfield, and we move to the same complex they lived in. They had two boys that were so cute. It was a hard transition for the two of us, but as I said, we had each other in the end. The next change was realizing the house we had in Western Hills was too small for our growing family. We ended up building a home in Mt Airy. Twins were coming, and it was a rough year. At the end of that year, we decided to move back to Indiana to be closer to family. That was the third big transition. The 2nd was yes, twins arriving. But also, my wife left her job for a while. She was a video producer in Cincinnati, Ohio, and ended up often working 100 or more houses in a week.
i love Chicago!
The story that brought on her leaving her job is simple. We went over to my folk’s house in Bloomington. Our daughter fell and cut her knee. She ran past my sisters, my mother, and my life to find Dabo (she called me Dabo then). That was it for my wife. She left her job and was a stay at home mom for the next few years. Not that she wasn’t still working, she ran everything, but she wasn’t leaving the house as much. Then the twins decided to join the family. My wife is a very organized person. When we moved from Bloomington to Cincinnati, it was one truck and just us. When we moved from Cincinnati to Indiana, the company paid for a moving company to move us. My wife organized that entire move. It was flawless!