Friday, March 21, 2014

Rules of the Road

To: Enraged Motorists
From: A Bitchy Wife

Apparently, there is some concern that people who ride bikes in my small 5 mile long by 1 mile wide suburb are anarchists, at worse, and “hipsters (gasp),” at best.  Apparently, they think because we aren't “urban” we shouldn't need this mode of transportation or recreation.  Apparently, car drivers never cause any traffic delays or accidents and are saints that live to a level of expectation that the rest of the world can only hope to achieve when they reach Nirvana.

My husband is a cyclist.  He obeys traffic laws as most cyclists do (I’m imagining you only notice the ones that don’t). He has had multiple attempts by motorists to run him off the road (just for shits and giggles, not because there wasn't room to pass) and has been hit once by a truck that was making an illegal turn.  He has never caused an accident himself in the five plus years that he has been a triathlete. 

He spends his days doing:
  •   lawyery things – like sometimes defending the very motorists that are a danger to him
  •   dad things – like volunteer coaching and fixing broken toys and teaching his daughters to ride their bikes.
  •   husband things – like killing spiders and mowing the lawn and putting air in my car tires.
  •   wife things – like grocery shopping and cooking (because I suck)
  •   restoration things – like stripping old furniture and managing our vintage store
  •   training things – like swimming, biking and running so he can finish his second iron man this year.

In other words, he does more things in a single day than a lot of people do in an entire week.

I’m not saying that he’s better than anyone else. I’m just saying that this is the person you are so angry at when you have to slam on your brakes (Because I forgot to say that he often just pops out of worm holes right in front of your cars.  I’m sure it’s not because you were looking at your phone or trying to eat your Chipotle.)  This is the person you have to wait to pass because he’s only going 20 mph in a suburb that’s top speed limit is 35.  This is the person you want to ride on the uneven sidewalk where people walk their dogs and push their strollers and let their kids run next door because you would rather they stay out of the way for your Very Important Thing that you can’t possibly be another 27.3 seconds late to.

Do I ever get road rage?  Um…yes.  Pretty much every day I drive down town.  I’m impatient and yet I will look at my phone and miss that a red light turned green while I checked facebook.  I yell at the car in front of me for not warning me about the pot-hole crater that just took off my muffler.  But I always thought those were my faults.

So, I guess what I’m saying – too make a long story short – kindly shut the hell up.

To: Enraged Motorists
From: Morgan (age 8) and Zoe (age 5)

Please don’t get my dad killed because you are egotistical ass hats!


P.S.  We love unicorns.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Disney Vacation, Part 2: The Good News

As documented by my receipts...

Starting carry on bags for the girls to help give away the surprise.  Oldest did not seem to notice that hers was actually a diaper bag.  I may steal Youngest's bag for myself at some point.  Filled with autograph book and stickers to decorate it; new swimsuit, flip flops and sunglasses; swimsuit Princess barbies; magazine and snack for the plane ride.

03/06/14 09:13am

$14.99 - (2) Clear Poncho Child

Since I had been stalking Orlando weather going on two weeks, I had packed my own rain jacket. But the girls didn't really have any and I forgot to remind Dad to pack his.  Day 1 at Disney was drizzly on and off all day, which was lucky for us because it kept all the lines down.  The girls were thrilled with the extra souvenirs.  Several times they asked Dad if he wanted to get one.  Silly some point you will understand that your father would never be caught dead in either plastic or ponchos.

(I myself was a little concerned with how much I loved the new Sketcher On The Go-Bungee Shoe in Taupe I bought for the trip.  Am I one step away from mom jeans? Probably. But, damn, they were comfortable.  Five stars.)

03/06/2014 4:50pm

$119.24 (2) Adult Dinners and (2) Kid Dinners at Crystal Palace with Pooh and Friends

I had a bit of internal debate over which character meal to choose, but my Oldest is just the tiniest bit obsessed with the bear with very little brain (keep reading below) so I chose him over Mickey and Princesses.  The food was fine.  I like to think the value in the meal is spending time with the characters without having to closely associate in a 45 minute wait line with random strangers that may or may not have demon spawn.  You tell me if the smile on this girl's face was worth it?

Day 1 Highlight - (other than Pooh) - Rapunzel.  All the princesses are great, but there is a reason this girl's line is so long.  As opposed to Snow White, Aurora and Cinderella who all still carry somewhat of a regal air, Rapunzel is on the common folk level.  Who knew someone could have so much to say about hair and frying pans.

03/07/2014 9:55am

$30.02 (3) Hot Chocolates (1) Hot Tea (4) Pastries

This is our Epcot breakfast that was obtained after finding out it was a 4-5 hour wait to see Elsa and Anna.  This was at 9:30 in the morning.  Only a half hour after the park officially opened.  And no there were no early Extra Magic Hours for the Resorts that day.  That line was based on people that had early breakfast reservations at Akershus.  I have since wondered if we would have just gotten in line if it would have been only two hours?  Was she just trying to scare people off?  After all, the Peter Pan ride read 45 minute wait every time we went by, but when we finally sucked it up, it only took 20 minutes.  (All other times were pretty close to those posted on my Lines app through

I will say this put more of a damper on the trip than the rain the day before.  I think they finally perked up a couple hours later during Turtle Talk with Crush (Highly recommend this and the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor for interactive experiences.  Very funny and talented cast members.)

In case you"re wondering about Hot Chocolate in Florida.  It was COLD on our Day 2.  Not sure it ever hit 60 degrees.  But, coming from Ohio, it felt like spring. So we still benefited from the lower crowds.

Before we left for lunch we caught up with Chip and Dale, who promptly stole the Oldest's head band and proceeded to search the girls for nuts.  Girls could not stop giggling.

We ate lunch at the Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney that day.

Best value of the day is the $15 parking fee that allows you in and out of all the parks all day.  I get that the shuttles are free but you still pay for it, if you know what I mean.

Since we were in Downtown Disney anyway, we decided to let the girls poke around the largest Disney store on the planet.  The girls received several gift cards at Christmas from different family members which was very much appreciated.  Thank you, thank you.  A million times thank you.

03/07/2014 3:05pm

$69.18 - Costume Sparkle Aurora < - That's the ball gown Youngest chose.

$9.54 - Pooh Plush Keychain < - What Oldest chose.

Could I have two more different children?

Afternoon was spent at Hollywood Studios, highlights included Rockin Roller Coaster and Toy Story Mania.
Evening was spent at Magic Kingdom, which was open until 1am!  Saw the light parade we had decided to skip the day before.  Got there just in time to grab a prime curb spot and eat our hot dogs.  Youngest asked for corn dogs, which she proceeded to suck out of their breading like a vampire, leaving us with the fried shells.  Yeah.  I don't know either.

I had promised them each a set of ears.  The Oldest promptly found a set of Pooh ones and the Youngest insisted on a bridal pair, even after the sales lady tried to explain they were for grown ups.  Seriously, lady.  do you really think a five-year-old cares?

Then we hit a few rides while everyone else was watching fireworks.  Rode the Winnie the Pooh ride again and as we are exiting I mentioned that the Oldest might want to spend more of her gift cards while we were in a shop with all Pooh bears.  And then the Disney World miracle happened.  She offered to buy her little sister something, too!

03/07/2014 11:05pm

$36.11 (1) 9" Eeyore Plush (1) 9" Pooh Plush

Needless to say, leaving the park at Midnight, meant two sleeping children in the car back and a late start the next morning.  But not too late to grab McDonald's for breakfast.  That's right.  We went to McDonald's.  I am not ashamed.

We decided we might as well hit Animal Kingdom for the morning, since Magic Kingdom was open till 1 am again.  And here is where I will insert the typical dialog that ran throughout our trip.

First of all, I was convinced that the number one thing the girls would want to do would be to get character signatures.  But from the moment we hit Space Mountain (yes, the first ride I took my five year old on was Space Mountain) it was all about the rides.

In line:  How long is this wait?  Does this ride go fast?  How long does this ride last?  Is it a roller coaster?  Are you going to sit with me?  Is it scary?

On the ride:  Silent Awe or Screams of Happy Terror

As the ride pulls back in, but before we get off:  When can we do that again?  What is the next ride we are going on?  Where is it?  How long will the wait  be?  Does it go fast?  How long does it last? Can I sit with you?

I thought that the Oldest had conquered all fear once she took on the Rockin Roller Coaster.  Halfway through line she found out from another little girl that it went upside down and for a brief moment I thought she was going to bale.  But it ended up being her favorite ride of the whole trip.  Surely Everest at Animal Kingdom would be child's play.

But she had really psyched herself out of that one due to (a) the Yeti and (b) she knew it would go backwards (thank you YouTube).  In the end she relented to trusting me, but for some reason that is the only ride that both girls stated they would never go on it again.

All of us were ready to leave Animal Kingdom almost as soon as we got there.  Mainly do to the crowd levels and narrow passages of many of the walkways.  Probably in some ways we had been spoiled with the low crowds and temperatures the previous days, but something about that place made each and every one of us grumpy.

This time we stopped at Panera for lunch.  No, I am not above saving a buck or two by eating at a chain outside the resort.  Sometimes the "magic" is just too much to take.

An afternoon by the pool to wash away the morning and we were back to Cinderella's castle by 6 pm.

03/08/2014 8:05pm

$15.75 - Dinner for family of four

What?  How did we eat dinner in the park for that little?  Well, quite possibly by participating in the most unsanitary event of the entire trip (and that includes the bathrooms).  We all shared a turkey leg, bag of chips and a Diet Coke on Liberty Square.  And guess what?  We were completely full.  (To be fair, we had gotten snacks back at the hotel in between. Lest you think we are starving our kids.)

When the first parade crowd cleared out, we nabbed spot right in front of the castle for the Celebrate the Magic display that they do on the castle walls.  A-MAZE-BALLS.  And I try not to use words like that.  Better than parade and fireworks combined.  I just can't fathom the genius that went into it.  You can watch one on YouTube.  Ours was a little different because it had a Frozen part.

03/08/2014 10:05pm

$8.82 - Ice Cream for Everyone!

And that's when it happened.  We had just decided to head further into the park during everyone else's mad rush to the monorail.  Youngest was finishing her cone so Dad headed into the building we were in front to look around.  Then he immediately came back out because THERE WAS NO LINE FOR MICKEY MOUSE!!!!

I mean how awesome is it to end your trip with the big guy himself.  And HE TALKED!!!  He got them to spin around with him like they were on the tea cups.  It was honestly the perfect ending and I still contest that Mr. Walt Disney might be the single most marvelous man that ever walked our planet.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Disney Vacation, Part 1: The Bad News

I'll give you the bad news first.  And isn't there a saying about bad news always coming in threes?


About two weeks out from our trip I got an email from the brand new B Resort in Downtown Disney, that they would not be making their Grand Opening deadline, and my reservation that included sheets that had never been slept in and bunk beds for the kids and environmentally conscious amenities was transferred over to the Buena Vista Palace and Spa.  They even footed the daily resort fee for which I hadn't yet paid.

On a "Bad" scale of 1-10, this was about a 3.  Disappointing, but the Palace was nice.  People were friendly.  Came with its own character breakfast.  Nobody necessarily went out of their way, but I have no complaints.  (Okay, one complaint, but I've noticed it at other places...Why do nice hotels still have analog cable?  Most of the channels barely come in.  If it had been any other type of vacation that would have been a serious point deduction, but we pretty much all fell asleep as soon as we got in bed each night.)


3:30 pm flight on a Wednesday.  Picked Oldest up from school a little early under the premise that we had to drop Dad at the airport before heading to an orthodontist appointment.  Pulled into long-term parking at about 2:00 pm and delivered the surprise before rushing them in with their new carry-ons only to be told the flight was delayed. They needed Maintenance to check the seal on the cargo hold door.  Ended up leaving the airport a little after 5:00 pm.

On the "Bad" scale of 1-10, this was a 6.  Nobody likes flight delays, but I guess delayed is better than losing my luggage over Georgia (or worse).  The main problem was that on the original plan, we would have gotten checked into the hotel just in time for a late dinner and maybe a stroll around Downtown Disney.  The new plan didn't have us even landing until about 7:30 pm.

Absolute Worst

I had pre-ordered our rental car through Priceline.  Had a good rate at Avis for a mid-sized car.

I used to be an Avis Preferred Member, back in my E&Y days that had me commuting to Augusta, GA every week. I would arrive at the Atlanta airport on a Sunday evening and my car would be running in the parking lot.  One time they even gave me a cute little Mitsubishi Spider convertible that they had sitting on the lot.  Just handed me the keys and told me to enjoy.

Now I don't know how Avis at the Orlando airport treats its "preferred customers", but I can tell you that they treat the rest of us peons like shit.

First, I stood in line for roughly thirty minutes.  It seemed as though everyone in front of me must not have already had a reservation and were completing new paperwork and making all the decisions I had already made a month ago.  This was not the case.

What was really going on, was that each customer was getting a hard-sell on an upgrade.  When it was my turn, my associate wondered if I would like to get a Lincoln Navigator instead of my Jetta sedan.  It was normally $300/day, but he could get it for only $50/day more than what I was paying. (Doing the math, that's an extra $200 Avis would like to tack on to my Disney World vacation.)

"No, thank you."

"But you will be in Orlando for only four day.  Don't you want to ride around in luxury instead of squeezed into that tiny little Jetta?"

Um, not long ago, I OWNED a Jetta that I squeezed into with my family of four EVERY DAY, so no, a frickin' NAVIGATOR is not necessary.

"No, thank you.  I will take the car I reserved."

"Oh, well, let me see if I can get you an upgrade somewhere in between."  And before I could say another word, he was gone.  Disappearing to "check with his manager" on what deal he could swing me. After I lost approximately an equal amount of time to Daylight Savings, he returned to give me his offer, which I promptly, but politely refused.

"I would just like the car that I ordered, please."

When I also refused to pay for additional rental insurance (at this point, it was on principle), the rest of the transaction was completed with an attitude that I will generously call "cool".

I should also point out that all of the above conversation had to be repeated several times, because the associate refused to speak up over the general noise of the airport.  I can only assume this was to frustrate me enough that I would finally just agree to whatever he was mumbling.

I was then told to have a seat.  They would need to bring my car up and it would take approximately ten to fifteen minutes.  He would come get me when it was here.

Excuse me?  The car I pre-ordered and pre-paid to be ready for me when my flight was supposed to land at 6:00 pm, is now, at 8:00 pm (because I've already wasted a half hour with these people), not on the premises? What. The. Hell.

I simmered in my chair with my two hungry children and not-on-his-ideal-vacation husband.  For the full fifteen minutes and then some.  My associate had not moved from the desk.  I walked back up and stood to the side not looking forward to the glares I would get from other customers if I appeared to be "cutting" in line.

A couple who's associate had just walked away turned to me and said, "You don't want this guy.  He keeps trying to upgrade us instead of giving us our car.  If I were you, I'd talk to the man with the radio.  He seems to be the only one allowed to make decisions."

So I sauntered down to the All Powerful and asked for my car.  Curiously, he didn't even know I was waiting for my car.  AP wondered who was helping me, and as I pointed the associate out, he magically walked down and handed my contract over.  Oh...I guess my car is ready now and after loosely interpreting the insufficient directions to get to said car we were finally on our way.  We ate dinner at 9:30 pm.  That was BEFORE we checked into the hotel.

On the "Bad" scale of 1-10, this hit the limit.  And because no one even had the decency to APOLOGIZE to me for my wait, I would actually push it up to 11.

Rest assured the rest of our vacation was phenomenal, if a little haphazard.  But all the goodwill that Avis had worked up with me over my many years of business travel, completely evaporated after that excruciating hour in Orlando.  Congratulations, I would prefer to walk barefoot on hot tar while carrying both my children on my back than drive one of your cars again.